Thursday, April 23, 2009

Forests may become our enemy in fight against global warming

"We normally think of forests as putting the brakes on global warming… but over the next few decades, damage induced by climate change could cause forests to release huge quantities of carbon and create a situation in which they do more to accelerate warming than to slow it down," said Professor Risto Seppala, of the Finnish Forest Research Institute. (BBC)

Seppala spoke on behalf of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations which released a gloomy report on the world's forests to handle climate change.

How could the forests turn against us? First, you need to understand how forests help. It's simple. They pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. (
More on that concept here.) But as the globe heats up, prolonged droughts lead to wildfires (which releases a forest's CO2 back into the atmosphere) and totally unintended nightmares like the dreaded pine beetle infestation that's killing North American trees at a shocking rate (dead trees have a hard time absorbing CO2).

We (human beings) want forests on our side, okay? Let alone the one against global warming. The thought of squaring off against nature in any arena is a pretty terrifying one to Pound360. What's more, once this thing starts spiraling, we're really in trouble.

"This could create a dangerous feedback loop… in which damage to forests from climate change would increase global carbon emissions that then exacerbate global warming."

What can be done? "Large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions," of course. Write your congress man or woman. And recycle, please.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

global warming accelerated by forests? what else can we do now?

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.