Friday, February 24, 2017
Last week we talked about how European demand for wood pellets as an alternative fuel to coal has resulted in the deforestation of parts of the U.S. mid-Atlantic Seaboard.
Apart from the obvious problems with this solution, the real irony is that conserving trees is one of the most effective and easiest ways to offset climate change.
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A report by Oxford University researchers says that our best hopes for offsetting climate change is something we already know how to do: plant trees. Planting trees helps the atmosphere no matter what, it is comparatively low-cost, and carries little additional risk.
It's a solution that makes sense, as forest management is one of the oldest ways that humans have shaped their environment. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native communities in the Americas had been burning forest fires for millennia to support the growth of desirable plants like blueberries and to manage ecosystems. British communities have long practiced coppicing, a tree-cutting technique that keeps forests full of younger trees.
In other words, humanity has been "geoengineering" with trees for a very long time. The authors of the Oxford report add that afforestation will need global support in order to be successful.
Note; they said nothing about chopping down entire forests to provide fuel for European power plants.