Forests No Climate Change Panacea
It is becoming clear scientifically that forests can not be depended upon to
absorb human carbon emissions. New scientific research indicates that
increased forest growth from elevated carbon dioxide levels is short-lived,
lasting until the next resource limitation – in this case soil nutrients – is met.
Existing large, ancient forests are a huge repository of carbon that should be
kept from the atmosphere. But do not count on forest plantations to allow
gluttonous fossil fuel consumption to continue. The only way to stop spiralling
climate changes is to reduce emissions. We can not bury pollutants in the
ground or the oceans, or depend upon forest sinks. We need to realize that
the atmosphere and other ecological systems are finite and can not absorb
industrial wastes at the scale humanity is producing. Energy efficiency,
conservation and renewable alternatives need urgent attention – including
resources and talent on par for a new Manhattan “Energy” Project.