Like your body, the planet can heal itself a little bit. Some places, like forests and oceans, are carbon sinks — they absorb carbon from the atmosphere, slowing down the rate at which everything goes to hell. But climate change is no papercut, and as it gets worse, it’s actually breaking the planet’s immune system. Two new studies in Nature argue that two types of carbon sinks — oceans and soil — are becoming less effective as climate change advances.

Oceans simply can't absorb as much carbon dioxide as their average temperatures rise — so the more we need them to get rid of some damn carbon, the less they can hold. The story with soil is a little bit more complicated. Soils play host to tiny organisms that breathe in carbon dioxide, as humans breathe in oxygen. With more carbon available, these organisms are thriving. Sounds good, right? Here's the catch: these organism excrete nitrous oxide and methane, which are more effective at trapping radiation and are only going to accelerate climate change.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Long story short: since we're busy screwing up the planet, the planet won't be able to save us from ourselves.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.