Use of forests to offset carbon emissions – not as easy as it may seem

Posted: June 19, 2020 by oldbrew in climate, Emissions, ideology, trees
Tags: ,

Credit: klimatetochskogen.nu


They may be chasing their own tails here. The carbon cycle is a natural process, but now climate-obsessed humans assume they can achieve something by attempting to tinker with it. But they also promote so-called ‘carbon capture and storage’, which in the unlikely event it was successful would reduce growth rates of CO2-dependent trees and other vegetation.
– – –
Given the tremendous ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some governments are counting on planted forests as offsets for greenhouse gas emissions—a sort of climate investment, says Phys.org.

But as with any investment, it’s important to understand the risks.

If a forest goes bust, researchers say, much of that stored carbon could go up in smoke.

In a paper published in Science, University of Utah biologist William Anderegg and his colleagues say that forests can be best deployed in the fight against climate change with a proper understanding of the risks to that forest that climate change itself imposes.

“As long as this is done wisely and based on the best available science, that’s fantastic,” Anderegg says. “But there hasn’t been adequate attention to the risks of climate change to forests right now.”

Meeting of minds

In 2019, Anderegg, a recipient of the Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, convened a workshop in Salt Lake City to gather some of the foremost experts on climate change risks to forests.

The diverse group represented various disciplines: law, economics, science and public policy, among others. “This was designed to bring some of the people who had thought about this the most together and to start talking and come up with a roadmap,” Anderegg says.

This paper, part of that roadmap, calls attention to the risks forests face from myriad consequences of rising global temperatures, including fire, drought, insect damage and human disturbance—a call to action, Anderegg says, to bridge the divide between the data and models produced by scientists and the actions taken by policymakers.

Accumulating risk

Forests absorb a significant amount of the carbon dioxide that’s emitted into the atmosphere—just under a third, Anderegg says. “And this sponge for CO2 is incredibly valuable to us.”

Because of this, governments in many countries are looking to “forest-based natural climate solutions” that include preventing deforestation, managing natural forests and reforesting. Forests could be some of the more cost-effective climate mitigation strategies, with co-benefits for biodiversity, conservation and local communities.

But built into this strategy is the idea that forests are able to store carbon relatively “permanently”, or on the time scales of 50 to 100 years—or longer. Such permanence is not always a given.

“There’s a very real chance that many of those forest projects could go up in flames or to bugs or drought stress or hurricanes in the coming decades,” Anderegg says.

Continued here.

Comments
  1. ivan says:

    How does this fit in with the idea of clear cutting to produce wood chips for biomass burning power generators? They can’t have it both ways – trees don’t grow like weeds, they take years.

    The whole obsession with carbon is stupid and has no basis in real world facts…but it does bring in the money for academics.

  2. JB says:

    “There’s a very real chance that many of those forest projects could go up in flames or to bugs or drought stress or hurricanes in the coming decades,”

    So for a brief period in Nature’s recycling process, carbon moves from the earth, plants, animals, and humans, to the atmosphere, increasing the total amount of atmospheric carbon by how much? From 0.04% to 0.05%? 0.08%? Then it gets sucked up by thriving flora and fauna all over again.

    We are still in the Dark Ages when it comes to understanding the full scope of living systems. Yet some Chicken Little thinks they’re astute enough to tinker with it to make it “better”, not comprehending the broader and long term consequences.

  3. pochas94 says:

    In some circumstances clear cutting is useful for fire breaks. Also provides habitat for a variety of species. Where useful and proper, why not do it and sell the byproduct?

  4. oldbrew says:

    Forest management is one thing, chopping down large chunks of forest for fuel is another.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s