By: S. Rojstaczer , S. Sterling and N. Moore


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A central focus of current debates about the environmental challenges facing the modern world is the rate at which humans are consuming the products of photosynthesis, for example through logging and food production.

A new study has confirmed previous estimates that the average appropriation of what is known as 'net primary productivity' is about 32 per cent. At the same time, however, the authors say that there is considerable uncertainty in this figure, which could be as low as 10 per cent or as high as 52 per cent.

Writing in the journal Science, they say that this broad range "reflects uncertainty in key parameters and makes it difficult to ascertain whether we are approaching crisis levels in our use of the planet's resources." They also state that improved estimates will require high-resolution global measures within agricultural land and forests.

Reference: Science 294, 2490-91 (2001)

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