Environment 500+ Scientists Demand Stop to Tree Burning as Climate Solution

tom_mai78101

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A group of more than 500 international scientists on Thursday urged world leaders to end policies that prop up the burning of trees for energy because it poses "a double climate problem" that threatens forests' biodiversity and efforts to stem the planet's ecological emergency.

The demand came in a letter addressed to European Commission President Urusla Von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The signatories—including renowned botanist Dr. Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden—reject the assertion that burning biomass is carbon neutral.

Referring to forest "preservation and restoration" as key in meeting the nations' declared goals of carbon neutrality by 2050, the letter frames the slashing of trees for bioenergy as "misguided."

"We urge you not to undermine both climate goals and the world's biodiversity by shifting from burning fossil fuels to burning trees to generate energy," the group wrote.

The destruction of forests, which are a carbon sink, creates a "carbon debt." And though regrowing "trees and displacement of fossil fuels may eventually pay off this carbon debt," the signatories say that "regrowth takes time the world does not have to solve climate change."

 
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Ghan

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And though regrowing "trees and displacement of fossil fuels may eventually pay off this carbon debt," the signatories say that "regrowth takes time the world does not have to solve climate change."
That sounds like some alarmism. I'm certainly no climate expert, but doesn't the carbon in trees come directly from the carbon they absorb from the air? (As in, exactly the reason they refer to forests as a "carbon sink" in the first place?) I have trouble believing that the climate as a whole is in such danger that this carbon cycle is going to have a huge effect either way. The trees are going to burn one way or the other. As we've learned in California, if you don't do proper forest management, then nature will do it for you, with sometimes disastrous results.

The forests are important. Deforestation is a problem. But this alarmist take seems to just suggest that we need to stop the logging industry dead. This seems unnecessary.
 

jonas

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That sounds like some alarmism. I'm certainly no climate expert, but doesn't the carbon in trees come directly from the carbon they absorb from the air? (As in, exactly the reason they refer to forests as a "carbon sink" in the first place?) I have trouble believing that the climate as a whole is in such danger that this carbon cycle is going to have a huge effect either way. The trees are going to burn one way or the other. As we've learned in California, if you don't do proper forest management, then nature will do it for you, with sometimes disastrous results.

The forests are important. Deforestation is a problem. But this alarmist take seems to just suggest that we need to stop the logging industry dead. This seems unnecessary.
The climate is in a large danger, but not from doing proper forest management. The CO2 released from trees is a small percentage of the CO2 we are expelling by other means, and an even smaller fraction of our effect on the climate once you consider CH4 as well.

Some sources suggest 1.5 bn tonnes of CO2 released by cutting forests, compared to 33bn tonnes emitted in total.

The biggest impact we can do right now is to reduce fossil fuels to a back up role for harsh weather conditions like TH has in Texas right now, and reduce animal product consumption.

A nice graph for how scarily quickly the climate is changing, look at https://xkcd.com/1732/ -- change of temperature has always happened, but never as fast as it is happening right now. We're not yet at a point where the effect is huge, but I'd rather see the change slow down a lot over the next decades.
 
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