Insects Have Unexpected Influence On Earth’s Carbon Sinks

These days anyone is capable of seeing signs of pollution in just about any given place. Our atmosphere is polluted with high levels of carbon dioxide everyday. However, these high levels of carbon dioxide are absorbed by trees. This is why having numerous and large areas of forestland on the planet is a good thing, but insects may be stifling the earth’s carbon sinks from reabsorbing carbon dioxide.

According to a leading ecologist from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, our forests are not absorbing as much C02 from the atmosphere because insects are eating the tree leaves too rapidly. The reason why insects are eating more tree leaves than normal is because the leaves are not offering up as much protein as normal, therefore insects are having to eat extra in order to compensate for the protein loss. But why are the leaves endowed with less protein than normal?

Apparently, having higher than normal C02 levels in the atmosphere leads to tree leaves that do not contain as much protein. This is due to leaves not needing to produce as much protein under environmental conditions that are high in C02 levels. Unfortunately, this slowed absorption of C02 by the earth’s natural carbon sinks is bad news for environmentalists hoping to see lower levels of C02 in the air.

Would planting more trees speed C02 reabsorption, or would insects slow the process in newly planted trees as well? How could researchers solve this problem?


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Smithereen Pest Management provides IPM pest services to residential and commercial clients in Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.
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