29 August 2007

Planting and Harvesting Trees--The Best Carbon Sequestration?

Freeman Dyson maintains that soil carbon is the most important sequesterer of carbon. Cofounder of Greenpeace Patrick Moore, claims that growing and using trees is the best way of dealing with high CO2 levels.
Trees are the most powerful concentrators of carbon on Earth. Through photosynthesis, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their wood, which is nearly 50 per cent carbon by weight. Trees contain about 250 kilograms of carbon per cubic metre.

North Americans are the world's largest per-capita wood consumers and yet our forests cover approximately the same area of land as they did 100 years ago. According to the United Nations, our forests have expanded nearly 100 million acres over the past decade.

...There is a misconception that cutting down an old tree will result in a net release of carbon. Yet wooden furniture made in the Elizabethan era still holds the carbon fixed hundreds of years ago.

...Although old trees contain huge amounts of carbon, their rate of sequestration has slowed to a near halt. A young tree, although it contains little fixed carbon, pulls CO2 from the atmosphere at a much faster rate.

  1. Deforestation, primarily in tropical forests, is responsible for about 20 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. This is occurring where forests are permanently cleared and converted to agriculture and urban settlement.
  2. In many countries with temperate forests, there has been an increase in carbon stored in trees in recent years. This includes the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden.
  3. The most important factors influencing the carbon cycle are deforestation on the negative side, and the use of wood, from sustainably managed forests, as a substitute for non-renewable materials and fuels, on the positive side.

To address climate change, we must use more wood, not less. Using wood sends a signal to the marketplace to grow more trees and to produce more wood. That means we can then use less concrete, steel and plastic -- heavy carbon emitters through their production. Trees are the only abundant, biodegradable and renewable global resource.
Vancouver Sun

This is rather obvious. If you grow a tree, then use the tree to build a house that stands for hundreds of years, that carbon is effectively sequestered for that period of time at least. Wood is a desirable building material for many things. Rather than preventing responsible forest harvesting and regrowth, intelligent environmentalists who truly believe in the CO2 theory of catastrophic climate change would be pushing for large wood plantations for construction lumber.

Hat tip Lubos Motl

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Blogger IConrad said...

"Deforestation, primarily in tropical forests, is responsible for about 20 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions."

The 2004 global fossil-fuel CO2 emission estimate, 7910 million metric tons of carbon

20%??? Assuming that's only net, and only compared to fossil-fuel emissions, that's still... 3.164 BILLION metric tons of wood!

Is there that much biomass of trees in the entire world??

Wednesday, 29 August, 2007  
Blogger Hawkeye said...

I've often thought that the lumber companies should supplement their income by getting into the carbon offset scam...err, business.

They cut a tree down and leave behind a sapling. (Christmas tree farms should too.)

The furniture business should be able to get all kinds of free money from suckers...err, environmentalist caring and thoughtful individuals.

Great stuff. Keep it up!

Wednesday, 29 August, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

IC: He is probably combining several ideas together to get the 20% figure such as released CO2 from felled lumber, CO2 released from farming the deforested area, CO2 that is no longer being removed by absent trees, etc.

Hawk: Right. If you are going to run a scam, why not run a scam with at least a bit of legitimacy?

Saturday, 01 September, 2007  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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