Human Appropriation of Photosynthesis Products

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Science  21 Dec 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5551, pp. 2549-2552
DOI: 10.1126/science.1064375

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Previous global estimates of the human impact on terrestrial photosynthesis products depended heavily on extrapolation from plot-scale measurements. Here, we estimated this impact with the use of recent data, many of which were collected at global and continental scales. Monte Carlo techniques that incorporate known and estimated error in our parameters provided estimates of uncertainty. We estimate that humans appropriate 10 to 55% of terrestrial photosynthesis products. 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. Improved estimates will require high-resolution global measures within agricultural lands and tropical forests.

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