Friday, February 19, 2021

Trees and Climate

It is easy to understand the importance of planting trees when talking about climate change, but cutting them down is not often, if ever, mentioned.  Having just finished posting a six-part series on trees, wood products, and carbon I thought you all might be interested in the below article as well. 

As we just witnessed the terrible destruction out west due to the terrible wildfire season they experienced we have seen first-hand the importance of managing our forests.  We also know that wood is a very environmentally friendly product.  Not only is it renewable and biodegradable but it is also has a very low carbon footprint when used and is carbon neutral as new trees sequester carbon on harvested sites.  So how do we get to where the general public understands how important it is not only to grow new trees but also to use and manage the existing trees.

Let me know what you think about Jonah Bader's opinion piece.

Plant trees, sure. But to savethe climate, we should also cut them down

Opinion by Jonah Bader

Updated 8:34 PM ET, Wed February 10, 2021

"Jonah Bader is an associate producer for "Fareed Zakaria GPS." The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion at CNN."

(CNN) Democrats have set their sights on passing major climate legislation, but with a razor-thin majority in Congress, they need to look for common ground with Republicans. One of the most promising ideas is to plant a vast number of trees -- and also to cut them down.

President Joe Biden has announced an ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. That would mean switching to renewable energy, expanding public transit, retrofitting buildings, and a host of other policies to slash greenhouse gas emissions. But even in the best-case scenario, it won't be possible to eliminate all emissions. The idea of "net-zero emissions" is that any remaining emissions can be fully offset by so-called "negative emissions" -- methods of sucking carbon out of the atmosphere.

Planting trees is the most straightforward way to do that. Trees absorb CO2 for photosynthesis and store it as cellulose and lignin, the main components of wood.

Planting trees may also be the most popular climate policy. Even former President Donald Trump loved the idea. He championed an international initiative to plant 1 trillion trees, which would be enough to soak up at least a decade of global emissions. When Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman, a professional forester, introduced the "Trillion Trees Act" last year, he was joined by a bipartisan group of co-sponsors that included House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

According to the World Resources Institute, the US alone could add 60 billion new trees to deforested lands, agricultural or urban areas, and sparse eastern forests that aren't prone to wildfires. Forests in the western US, on the other hand, are prone to wildfires, and that calls for putting down the shovel and reaching for the axe.

Wildfires turn trees from asset to liability. Last year's record blazes in California belched twice as much CO2 as the entire state's power plants. It's one of the terrible feedback loops of climate change, where wildfires beget more wildfires.

To break the cycle, it's often necessary to sacrifice individual trees for the good of the whole forest. If large trees are packed densely together, flames can spread easily between them, so "selective thinning" can reduce the risk of large fires. The same goes for small trees, which can act as "ladder fuel" by transmitting fires from the forest floor up to the treetops. Dead trees that are still standing, dried out like matchsticks, pose another fire hazard that can be neutralized with chainsaws.

Selective thinning can also help stop the spread of diseases and insects that, like fires, destroy millions of acres of US woodlands each year. Think of it as social distancing for trees.

There’s more…….to read the rest of the article click here.

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