Plants Found to Release Methane

What to make of the recent scientific discovery that plants are a major source of methane – a particularly potent greenhouse gas? It is very important that these findings not be misconstrued to suggest that natural vegetation including forests are not important ecologically. Certainly forests are critical ecologically as repositories of biodiversity, wildlife, carbon, water, etc. But it is incorrect to assert that planting forests will have a major impact on remediating climatic change.


Humanity understands very little of the workings of the global ecological system. The approximately 1/3 of current methane emissions that are from vegetation would be a natural source that was buffered and absorbed by a healthy atmosphere. It is the other 2/3 which is human caused which can and should be controlled. There is so much remaining to be know regarding how forests and climate interact.
The precautionary principle would hold the we hold onto as many natural forests as possible, and perhaps restore natural forests where they occurred pre-human impact. Beyond that, forest plantations are not a useful climate strategy. The major implication of these findings is to reiterate that point that climate change can only be sufficiently addressed through major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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2 Responses

  1. Sam says:

    Greetings Glen.
    On the issue of plant-based methane gas, one cannot but wonder who finances these scientists…(my conspiratory mind points at the industrialized,corporatist,car-dependent developed world & its 'wannabes'.
    Those scientists at 'Max Planck' institute obviously had a very 'Descarsian' and 'Baconian'
    upbringing which failed to the larger pattern of life. And like you said above, we knew very little of the workings of the global ecological system, hence this new 'finding' is nothing new under the hegemony of neo-liberal economic system that sees and treat the planet as nothing but a RESOURCE!

  2. Chelsea Schooler says:

    Plants on earth give us oxygen and give the enviroment biodiversity and creatures a place to live. However these plants also excert methane into the enviroment, 1/3 of the earth's total methane. So my question is, are the plants hurting us or helping us more?

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