How Is Climate Change Affecting Photosynthesis?

Climate change is having significant impacts on plants and trees, interfering with growth,  

Here are the three most important consequences:

  • Carbon release instead of absorption
  • Declining plant growth
  • Changes in pollination

Carbon release instead of absorption

Photosynthesis declines when temperatures rise, while respiration increases. Once this happens, ecosystems can start to release more carbon than they absorb. Scientific American says that if greenhouse gases continue to increase at their current rate, “nearly half the world’s terrestrial ecosystems could cross the temperature threshold” within a few decades.

Learn more: Carbon in, carbon out

Declining plant growth

It’s true that plants may thrive when there are fewer freezing days. However, the extreme temperatures, soil changes, and droughts that come with climate change make plants less likely to flourish. Because of this, climate change has a net negative effect and actually stunts plant growth. This alters forests and changes habitats for various species.

Learn more: Plant growth

Changes in pollination

The bee population has already been disrupted and populations shrunk. Climate change can worsen this, forcing pollinators to arrive at the wrong time to feed on the flowers on which they are used to feeding. This affects hummingbirds, bees, bats, and butterflies. 

Learn more: Climate change and pollinators

Key takeaways 

  • Climate change can permanently alter insect and animal habitats 
  • Warming can turn forests into net carbon emitters instead of net carbon absorbers. 

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