There is only one known way to take carbon OUT of the world: Trees.
A Zero Carbon Britain report notes that all of the various technologies proposed to help achieve zero carbon by 2027 are either low or, at best, zero carbon emitters. “Forests are the only netnegative technology currently available,” says the report. With this in mind, tree-based offset schemes seem like common sense.
Most climate change strategies focus on reducing fossil fuel usage through energy conservation and renewable resources. Although this puts a dent in global warming, it doesn’t solve the issue of an over-carbonized world. Deforestation causes a fifth of carbon emissions. The fewer trees we cut down, the more positively we can tackle climate change.
Fact: Saving forests helps reduce the emissions load pouring into the atmosphere. Trees are the answer. It’s the only mechanism we know that can remove accumulated carbon. And it should not be ignored. So why a reluctance to embrace trees?
The Zero Carbon Britain report notes that “the potential of carbon sequestration is modest but important, representing about 5 percent of Britain’s current emissions.” Five percent may seem modest, but consider that air travel is responsible for more than two percent of global emissions. Suddenly, five percent is important – and meaningful.
A small, densely populated country like Britain can only accommodate a certain amount of extra trees. Nevertheless, the country has only 12 percent forest cover– so there is room for expansion here. And in many other countries the world over, too. In fact, many areas devastated by deforestation, such as parts of Africa, are desperate for more tree cover to prevent soil erosion, protect water sources, provide food, etc.
Trees can play a number of roles in helping combat climate change.
- Wood is sustainable.
“Wood is not only a low embodied-energy material in itself, but is a form of sequestered CO2. Sustainable harvesting and replanting of wood is likely to be an increasingly important mitigating strategy,” says the Zero Carbon Britain report.
- Trees + Animals = Love
Many species have a symbiotic relationship with trees. In Africa, cocktail ants live inside the swollen bases of the thorns on acacias and feed off the sap. In return for food and shelter, the ants
patrol the branches and drive off any marauding herbivores, including giraffe and rhino. They leave pollinating bees alone.
Trees don’t need us. We need trees.
People in many regions have suffered the consequences of the destruction of forests, through the loss of topsoil, damage to water sources, loss of food and fuel, etc. In drastic cases, our decision to cut down trees has led to our own demise – famine and resource conflict.
However present the risk of fire, pests or disease to forests may be, however imprecise our accounting of their carbon sequestration, the world is better off with more trees. Trees are robust and regenerative. Their greatest risk is from man, not natural causes.
Although the numbers have not been perfected, the fact remains: Trees absorb carbon. Carbon emmissions are killing the planet. So let’s cultivate and nurture our only ally in this battle against global warming. Let’s plant trees.