Skip to comments.Forests no longer allies in climate-change fight
Posted on 04/05/2007 2:29:07 AM PDT by jsh3180
OTTAWAFearing the effects of forest fires and tree-destroying insect infestations, the federal government has decided against using Canada's forests in the calculations for totalling up the country's greenhouse-gas emissions.
Instead of forests being used as a credit to offset other emissions, the government is now afraid that including forests in the formula could drive up Canada's climate-change burden.
Government scientists made the call after learning of the damage that could come to forests from 2008 to 2012 and realizing the forests could become another source of emissions, pushing Canada even further from its Kyoto targets.
In addition to destroying trees, which take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, insect infestations increase the threat of wildfires. For example, the mountain pine beetle, a current threat in Western Canada, burrows into a tree and prevents it from drawing water, killing it and turning it to kindling.
"I know for the average guy in the street, they think, `Big forests, lots of trees, how could it be?'" said Tony Lempriere, a senior economist with the Canadian Forest Service in Ottawa. "But if you think of fires, that's a lot of carbon and they're very unpredictable."
The Kyoto treaty, which Canada ratified in 2002, gives countries the option of using agricultural land and managed forests in the calculation of a country's total emissions. Managed forests are those that are regularly cut down and replanted.
This should work to the advantage of a heavily forested country like Canada because trees and plants naturally act as a carbon "sink," taking in carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen.
But the realities of life on a hotter planet have changed norms.
"We were always aware that there was risk of (forests becoming a carbon) source which is why in the negotiations Canada negotiated for having an option. ... We wanted the ability and the time to do further analysis," Lempriere said.
Eric Richer, a spokesman for Environment Minister John Baird, said in an email that the decision to take Canada's managed forests out of the Kyoto equation applies only to the treaty's first commitment period, from 2008 to 2012.
"We will keep monitoring the situation and reassess, if need be, for the second commitment period," after 2012, he wrote.
The risk to Canada's forests may be greater than the government analysis predicted. Since the study's completion, the mountain pine beetle, which has devastated British Columbia's forestry sector, has crossed into Alberta.
The insect eats into a tree where it feeds, reproduces and stops the tree from drawing water. Once infested, nothing can save the tree.
"It will run its course right to Newfoundland and take out all the rest of the pine in Canada," Dirk Brinkman, a Vancouver-based forestry expert, said in a telephone interview.
The government decision has angered environmentalists, who say the Kyoto opt-out clause, negotiated under the Chrétien government, means Canada is not taking responsibility for its total emissions.
"The problem is that ultimately we're going to have to include our forests because forests and ecosystems can be bigger emitters (of greenhouse gas) than industry," said Brinkman.
In 2003, Brinkman said, forest fires in Europe, the United States, Australia and Canada sent more emissions into the atmosphere globally than any other source, including industry.
Brinkman, a recognized specialist in sustainable forest management, is married to Joyce Murray, who is contesting the federal Liberal nomination in Vancouver Quadra riding.
Louise Comeau, a climate-change expert in Ottawa, said Canada had always assumed it would realize a greenhouse-gas benefit from managed forests.
But she said damage caused by climate change has turned that assumption on its head. "We've got more trees being destroyed than we have growing, and so our forests are turning into a source of emissions as opposed to a sink for carbon."
Forests account for 402 million hectares of Canada's 909-million-hectare land area. Managed forests take up 240 million hectares.
From 1990 to 2004, there were only three years when Canada's forests became a net source of emissions, rather than a carbon sink 1995, 1998 and 2004. Since 2000, there has been a slight trend toward forests becoming a source of emissions.
The Conservatives announced their decision not to use Canada's forests in the Kyoto equation in one of two reports that were delivered recently to the United Nations body that oversees the climate change agreement in Bonn, Germany.
Under Kyoto, Canada committed to reduce emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012. But emissions have climbed.
Someone else agrees carbon credits are about the dumbest thing going.
Must kill the carbon units.
The world has gone insane.
I worked under an NSF grant studying GW problems @ U of M biostation for two years. There was a researcher there doing experiments on forests as carbon sinks, of course, going in on the premises they would be carbon sinks. You should have seen the squirming and backtracking and making up of false reasons when it turned out forests were net carbon sources.
The discussion section of that paper was sheer fiction because they were trying to make up reasons why their results didn’t match their forgone conclusion, ya don’t want that grant money drying up ya know!
The world has gone insane.
This is one of the most convuluted pieces of reasoning I’ve read in a long time.
First we were to plant trees to offset carbon...
Second we learned that trees actually raise the temperature
Now we have to count them as emitters of CO2, not carbon sinks
And lastly then there is this:
Is this a Freudian Slip? I thought kyoto was to deal with ANTHROPOGENIC emissions, not natural phenome! The author works real hard to make global warming ‘the cause’ for the beetle infestation, when it is a natural phenome resulting not from global warming, but lack of forest diversity and lack of natural predation of the beetle.
“The problem is that ultimately we’re going to have to include our forests because forests and ecosystems can be bigger emitters (of greenhouse gas) than industry,” said Brinkman.
This is nuts.
Not a lot of MENTAL in the environMENTAList movement....
We’re in Bizarro world, through the looking glass, on another planet etc. etc.
These people are jut too damn funny.
We need to add volcanoes into the equation, too.
Or plug them somehow.
And add underground coal fires.
Or put them out.
And the resulting soil erosion is a good thing, of course -- just look at the paradise known as Haiti.
Didn't they ridicule President Reagan when he said this?
The whole thing is farcical,except while laughing we are getting ready to pay out actual money for this scheme being figured out by educated idiots.
Seem to remember something about that. No time this morning to research.
Hononlulugal and I are doing the POGW ping list while xcamel is on vacation.
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