Carbon Consumption and the Earth's Carrying Capacity

  • Released Thursday, December 9th, 2010
  • Updated Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 at 12:00AM

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On Dec. 14, 2010, NASA Goddard researchers will conduct a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall 2010 meeting, entitled, "Satellite Supported Estimates of Human Rate of NPP Carbon Use on Land: Challenges Ahead. In the first measurement of this trend, the research showed humans are using an increasing amount of Earth's annual production of photosynthetic land plants and that consumption rose from 20 to 25 percent from 1995 to 2005.

Visualization: Human Consumption of Global Plant Production, 2005

This visualization illustrates the relationship between human acquistition of net primary productivity (HANPP) and net primary productivity itself (NPP). The data presented is the ratio of HANPP to NPP, which can be thought of as a measure of the sustainability of human consumption in a given area. This visualization uses a logarithmic scale, so each unit increase on the scale represents an increase of ten times the previous value.