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Are Plants Really Villains in Climate Change?

June 3, 2007
New research disputes the widely publicized claim that they emit loads of methane
clipped from www.sciam.com

jungle

Tropical forests spew methane into the air, unwittingly abetting human-produced climate change. So say geochemist Frank Keppler of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, and atmospheric physicist Thomas Röckmann of the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht in the Netherlands. But new research, using more sensitive measurement techniques and better growing conditions, failed to turn up any evidence of significant methane emission.

The new study, conducted by botanist Tom Dueck and his colleagues at Plant Research International in Wageningen, the Netherlands, found only negligible methane emissions coming from plants. “[The concentrations] were so low and variable that they did not significantly differ from zero,” Dueck says. “We thought that if Keppler’s claim was true, we could affirm his findings with better methods. If not, we’d have a scientific dispute.”

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