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The Earth Is Greener Than It Was 20 Years Ago, According to NASA

By Carly Sitzer

When you think about our planet and all the changes the climate has undergone in recent decades, it’s easy to become overwhelmed — and maybe even a little worried. But there are plenty of good changes happening in our environment, too. NASA recently released new satellite photos and confirmed that the world is becoming a greener, and leafier place — thanks largely in part to the efforts by India and China to plant new trees. 

In the past two decades, NASA reports, the planet’s green leaf area has increased a total of 5 percent, which is equal to about two million square miles or the entire area of all of the Amazon rainforests. 

As Chi Chen — the study’s lead author and graduate researcher at Boston University’s Department of Earth and Environment — noted, China and India being leaders in the additional vegetation is especially unexpected given they are the two countries with the two largest populations. Chen added, “China and India account for one-third of the greening, but contain only 9 percent of the planet’s land area covered in vegetation — a surprising finding, considering the general notion of land degradation in populous countries from overexploitation.” However, as the reported explained, part of the reason these highly populated countries turned to agriculture was to help feed their growing populations.