According to a recent report, increased crop production is at least 25% to blame for the rising global temperature, and associated global warming. In fact, Christopher Kucharik, of the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, alongside his colleagues have proven that the increase in production has contributed – at least partially – to global warming.
However, the truth is that it’s a little complex – the reasoning – as to why this is believed to be happening. It comes down to a matter of timing, really. During the spring and summer months, when plants are growing – they soak up a lot of CO2. During the summer months and spring months – that means a decrease in CO2 inside the atmosphere. However, when the plants die or become inactive they release that CO2 right back into the atmosphere.
The thinking behind the concept, even though it is a little complex, is that using the sponge analogy – where plants are the CO2 sponge – we continually increase the size sponge we have on the planet. Thusly, creating a larger volume of CO2 to be released back into the atmosphere when those plants are no longer living.
Researchers ultimately point to a very small portion of the land in North America being dedicated to farming, and crops, yet still accounting for such a large portion of the seasonal increase – which is ultimately their biggest cause for concern. Roughly 6% of the land in North America is cropland, yet agriculture is responsible for nearly 50% of the rise in the seasonal cycle that expels carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.
This definitely raises concerns and spreads the blame a little more evenly. While this may not be the most well-received piece of research to some who have largely wanted to assert blame on the industry throughout the world – it comes down to generating real change from the things we’re evaluating like this. Interestingly enough, the researchers noted that of the total cropland and increase percentage – 66% of that is strictly dedicated to corn growth. The corn industry is something that has found itself under intense scrutiny from time-to-time due to the production of ethanol and presence of high-fructose corn syrup in processed foods.