• Thomas Enzendorfer

Climate Change & The Role Forests Have

Adding 2.2 billion acres of tree cover would capture two-thirds of man-made carbon emissions, a new study found”- Vox

There’s a scientific consensus that climate change exists- that the global temperature of the earth is rising and it is because of man-made emissions. This threatens to disappear entire countries because of rising sea levels, affecting entire species, our food supply, health, and the very future of our planet. The main source of CO2 emissions is the combustion of fossil fuels by industry and cars. As overpopulation increases and unsustainable development focused around fossil fuel industries continues, our planet is headed for disaster, unless we can adapt and mitigate CO2.

Forests absorb more carbon dioxide than they release through the process of photosynthesis- thus, they are an important carbon sink to mitigate against climate change. During photosynthesis, trees and plants “sequester,” or absorb, carbon from the atmosphere in the form of CO2, as food. The carbon from the CO2 becomes part of the plant and when the plant/tree dies, the carbon is released into the atmosphere. This is why deforestation is so important, not only because of biodiversity loss, but because of the importance that these carbon sinks have in mitigating the CO2 not only by what they sequester, but also thinking about the extra carbon they release when they are cut down. Forests are a valuable resource, which is why instead of building sprawl encouraging longer car rides and more fossil fuel use, we should grow our cities sustainably- with inclusive design and with green energy.

Credit: S. Luyssaert et-al.

There’s a huge potential for forest restoration, but we’re still moving in the wrong direction, states Vox. As average temperatures keep climbing, forests may lose their effectiveness in soaking up emissions, so our time is running out to where we can be effective at mitigating the damage and investing in these carbon sinks. We’re pumping a record volume of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — 2.6 million pounds per second — and the more carbon that is in the air, increases the risk of wildfires of these forests. Thus, we cannot continue our dependence on fossil fuels and just rely on the forests. We MUST lower our reliance on fossil fuels and we MUST restore our forests in order to keep these carbon sinks healthy and sake as well as reduce our carbon impact and have any hope of mitigating the damage already done. A combination of reforestation + a transition to a green economy is dire- a combination of holding those politicians and business leaders accountable and personal choices can lead to the positive growth we need.

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