Climate Change and Understanding Reforestation


Read this:  The The Nation magazine article below, by Eilís O’Neill, illustrates why it is so important that science be the guiding force in our collective actions regarding scientific problems, particularly climate change. Having someone who doesn’t believe in climate change, like Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, as the ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is just so very dangerous.  But we are currently stuck with him.  As the world focuses on climate change in Paris we can only hope intelligent minds prevail.

O’Neill’s article examines the complexities related to attempts to reforest major rain forests in many of the poorer countries around the world.  Having been drastically reduced by man’s search for quick, short term profits, the results, as we know, have been massive increases in CO2.  As science and governments attempt to find solutions, they often go astray, doing nothing to curtail the problem and often exacerbating it.

One story focuses on a Uruguay farmer, Francisco Ferber who planted “1,000 acres of trees, which could be harvested within a decade and sold for firewood, paper, poles, and posts … benefits and subsidies offered by Uruguay’s Forestry Law of 1987 made the option tempting. The law forgave property taxes on land covered with native forest or a tree farm—so, by covering half their land with eucalyptus, the Ferbers could dramatically reduce their taxes.”  Sounds like a simple solution, especially to the non scientist (i.e. Sen. Inhofe), but it is much more complicated that it seemed.  The facts are that “Planting trees locks up carbon in the trunks—for a long time, if they’re left standing or used to make furniture or buildings. If they’re used for toilet paper or paper napkins, the carbon returns to the atmosphere as soon as the product starts to decompose—but even that can have its advantages, because tree farms can help take pressure off old-growth forests … (and) … Planting trees, reforesting, restoration are an essential element for Latin America to be able to reduce its carbon footprint.”  Part of the problem is that “planting a tree is not always a good thing. It depends on what species gets planted and where, who plants it, and who owns the land.”  Intelligent, experts need to be in change of these efforts and politicians, worldwide, need to rely on that expertise.  Even so, they will sometimes get things wrong.  Additionally, we need to beware of the “expertise” within the corporate world, where other, often misguided agendas invariably dominate.

The article needs to be read in total to get a real feel.



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