Not only are trees in the northern hemisphere making it more difficult for us to generate energy from wind power, but plants down south are releasing methane gas into the atmosphere. Have plants got an anti-green agenda?
Over the weekend, two papers published in Nature journals highlighted two reasons why saving the forests isn't always the best thing for the environment.
One study showed that winds in the northern hemisphere have slowed by 5-15 percent over the past thirty years. And simulations indicate that wind slowdown is likely due to increasing "roughness" of the landscape caused by trees and other vegetation. If the winds continue to slow, the researchers note, wind power production could grind to a halt. So do we need clearcut the north in order to keep producing green energy? Probably not the best plan. Still, this is one of the only times you'll hear that the planet has too much vegetation for comfort.
Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere, geoscientists have discovered why tropical forests produce so much methane. According to a release about their paper:
Edzo Veldkamp and colleagues collected plants that grow on the branches of tropical trees - known as tank bromeliads - in the Ecuadorian Andes, and measured their methane emissions. All plants emitted methane, due to the accumulation of methane-producing microbes in water-filled tank-like structures at the base of their leaves.
That's right - these tropical trees and plants contain teeny pockets of water that breed methane-producing bacteria. Though scientists have long known that there's a high concentration of methane hovering over tropical forests, they didn't know why.
It seems that healthy forests and trees are our enemies when it comes to combating greenhouse gases and developing alternatives to fossil fuels. So maybe destruction of wildlife is a way of saving the planet? Yeah, that's the ticket.
Read the scientific papers on the wind slowdown and methane-producing forests via Nature.