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So Fungi Are Keeping Trees From Stopping Climate Change

By / 08.31.12

It’s one of the more common anti-climate change memes. “We’re dumping all this carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so let’s just plant more trees! That’ll solve the problem!” Yes, because trees can also process all the methane and nitrous oxide we’re farting out as a species!

Nonetheless, it would be a great idea to plant more trees because, hell, it can’t hurt, right?

Yeah, one small problem, though. It turns out that fungi, in addition to being kind of disgusting and creepy under a long film exposure, are also polluting dicks.

Well, actually, they’re incredibly considerate. To plants. Humans, on the other hand, can piss right off.

Specifically, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, a kind of fungi that lives in the roots of about 80% of the plants on earth.

In theory, a plant sucks up carbon dioxide, breathes out oxygen, and dumps the carbon into the soil. Great, right? Not so much.

The fungi likes this carbon and also likes its friend the plant. So it ever so helpfully takes that carbon the plant removed from the atmosphere as part of a process to feed it nitrogen and… turns it back into carbon dioxide.

In fact, it’s so good at this that the fungi actually turn plants into de facto carbon dioxide producers.

Dammit. Does this mean M. Night Shyamalan was right? Man, we’re never going to hear the end of this one.


TAGSaw crapCLIMATE CHANGEscience

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