Plants Temporarily Prevented Carbon Dioxide Buildup, Study Finds

January 10, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. halt / hɔlt / (v.) – to stop permanently or temporarily
Example: The president halted the progress of the nuclear program.

2. conversely / kənˈvɜrs li / (adv.) – opposite to something previously said
Example:  The summer season is very hot. Conversely, winter is freezing.

3. vegetation / ˌvɛdʒ ɪˈteɪ ʃən / (n.) – all the plants in a certain place
Example: There is abundant vegetation in the tropics because of the amount of rainfall in the area.

4. occurrence / əˈkɜr əns / (n.) – something that happens
Example: The show was delayed due to several unexpected occurrences.

5.  absorption / æbˈsɔrp ʃən / (n.) – the act or process of absorbing
Example: Health is affected by the body’s absorption of nutrients.


Read the text below.
A new study suggests that plants temporarily halted the buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

The increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is caused by burning solid waste, fossil fuels, trees, and wood products. It may also be a result of chemical reactions in most vehicles and factories. Conversely, CO2 is removed from the atmosphere when it is absorbed by plants.

Scientists from the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory observed atmospheric levels of CO2 along with the satellite records of the Earth’s vegetation. Their findings show that between 2002 and 2014, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere did not rise despite the increase of CO2 emissions caused by human activities. The researchers attributed this occurrence to plants.

The study found that the plants absorbed CO2 more efficiently because of the abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere. The researchers observed that the plants’ rate of CO2 absorption doubled since the 1950s. This slowed down the accumulation of the gas in the atmosphere.

The study’s co-author, Trevor Keenan, said that although the findings appear to be good, the effects of plants on atmospheric CO2 will not matter if emissions are not reduced.

According to a scientist who reviewed the study, global temperatures in the last two years have been the warmest on record. This means that the plants no longer have the same effect that they had from 2002 to 2014. Nevertheless, he hopes that the findings will help in coming up with solutions to fight climate change.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Based on the findings of the study, what projects do you think should world leaders start?
·         In what way can studies like this have more impact on the world?

Discussion B

·         What do you think will happen if the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continue to increase?
·         Who can make the biggest impact in reducing the levels of CO2?

January 10, 2017