I’ve said I try to stay out of climate change debates, but I’m trying to learn more. I’m taking a retired-person class from a retired person well-known in climate change circles, Steven Running (google him), and I thought I’d share a couple of his many slides that I think say a lot about the role of forests in saving the planet from dangerously unpredictable climate changes.
For any doubters, the first slide shows the the role of human activities in raising the world’s temperature. It’s basically all about us, and CO2 is the biggest problem. The second slide shows the role of land in CO2 emissions and sequestration. The point is that when the atmosphere and the ocean must absorb the new emissions it causes the serious problems we are starting to see today. That means we have to attack the three parts of this equation we have control over, the human sources of emissions and land-based carbon sequestration. I suspect the answer is mostly “reduce the use of carbon fuels,” but maximizing the carbon content of land is going to be important, too. Regarding forests, he has already said that planting trees can’t be done at the necessary scale, and cultivated biofuels are a net carbon source (though converting organic residue to energy would help).