Thursday, May 15, 2008

CO2 reforestation analysis, finally

i support reforestation. strongly. it is a good way to capture CO2, increase cloud cover, increase surface reflectivity, produce fresh water, give our wildlife a chance, reduce erosion, and generally pretty up the place. if managed properly, they can also be economically productive as places to grow mushrooms, hunt deer, watch birds, grow coffee, host ecotourists, and who knows what else.

yet, in CO2 policy and climate change circles, reforestation seems to receive comparatively little discussion. with the focus instead being on all kinds of idiotic carbon capture and sequestration technologies that don't presently have a chance of working and probably never will. these projects are quite nearly openly ridiculed in the energy industry publications. if the DOE didn't have billions of dollars to throw away on these boondoggles, they'd never get off the drawing board.

given this as my unabashedly biased perspective on things, you can imagine how happy i was to see that i'm not the only one talking (to myself) about reforestation. according to the study, if we returned the earth's forest cover to the level it was at in 1900 and managed the forests for optimal carbon capture, humanity's net carbon output would be zero. forever. they estimate that an extra tax of about .5 cents per kWh worldwide would be enough to finance the project. imagine if we returned forest cover to pre-industrial revolution levels.

by "managed for optimal carbon capture" is meant that the trees have to be cut down periodically and removed from the carbon cycle. they suggest that the only way to accomplish this is by burying the trees. considering how long it takes products left in a landfill to decompose, i doubt that burying them would be necessary. converting them to furniture, houses, paper or just about anything other than fuel should slow the carbon's return to the atmosphere enough to be effective. seems to me.

for more of my thoughts on the matter, see the below links. the first and last are the most relevant.

how much is deforestation causing climate change?

bacteria (from forests) induce rain

quick analysis of a forest-based biofuel

trees help clean superfund sites

CO2 credits and agroforestry

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