Forests may flip from CO2 ‘sink’ to ‘source’ by 2050

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Forests and other land ecosystems today absorb 30 per cent of humanity’s CO2 pollution, but rapid global warming could transform these natural ‘sinks’ into carbon ‘sources’ within a few decades, opening another daunting front in the fight against climate change, alarmed researchers have said. Climate sceptics often describe CO2 as “plant food”, suggesting that increased greenhouse gas emissions will be offset by a massive upsurge in plant growth. But the new study shows that beyond a certain temperature threshold — which varies according to region and species — the capacity of plants to absorb CO2 declines.