Plant Consumption Rising Significantly Worldwide

ScienceDaily (Dec. 16, 2010) — Humans are consuming an increasing amount of Earth’s total annual land plant production, new NASA research has found.

As the human population continues to grow and more societies develop modern economies, this rate of consumption is increasing both as a whole and on a per capita basis globally. In addition to as food, plants are consumed for paper, clothing, livestock feed, firewood, biofuels, building and packaging materials, among other uses.

A NASA research group led by Marc Imhoff at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., first quantified this global consumption in 2004, when the group found that in 1995 humans consumed 20 percent of all the land plant material produced that year.

Now the same line of research has produced a multi-decadal record of plant production (from 1982 to 2007) that establishes a baseline of the Earth’s productivity, and a 10-year trend of human consumption. These new findings are being presented at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.  read more