Few realize it, but we have turned a significant corner. Carbon dioxide levels, closely related to global warming and general environmental degradation, have peaked for the year.
The explosive recovery of kudzu from its winter siesta finally started gobbling up more CO2 through photosynthesis than is being spewed out by cars and lawn mowers. Every year, it takes until the end of May for this to happen.
For those who like to take the pulse of the environment in the easiest and cheapest way possible, nothing beats just keeping track of CO2. Stations atop the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii continually monitor air composition far from the L.A. freeways or coal-powered power plants. More data than anyone could possibly want is available by googling “mauna loa CO2” and checking the ESPL site. At first, you wonder why there is such a consistent swing between low summer and high winter values, but then it becomes obvious. In much of the Northern Hemisphere, where most of the land is on Earth, photosynthesis slows down or completely stops in the winter. Plants are sucking up less CO2 exactly when more fossil fuels are burned for heating, generating even more CO2.
If it were not for kudzu, we’d be in worse shape than we are. The amount of CO2 is not just escalating. It’s increasing at an astonishing rate. That is a problem.
If there is a solution, it is for everyone to do their part. Celebrate kudzu. An obvious solution is to dig up all those plants with skinny leaves like roses and azaleas, and plant more CO2-busting kudzu. Aside from recognizing its traditional value in shade arbors and as an alternative to grape leaves in Middle Eastern wraps, we should celebrate the nobility of kudzu, and cease to denigrate it merely as an invasive species.