Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Planting trees to save the earth? Maybe not unless you live in Panama

In the "more harm than good department" the Register notes that not all "carbon offset schemes" are alike.
New research presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union suggests that the carbon reducing benefits of the trees is outweighed by their tendency to trap heat close to the ground - especially when they are planted in the normally snowy, higher latitudes.

So while they cool the planet by taking carbon out of the atmosphere, they also warm it, like a winter blanket. Ecologist Govindasamy Bala of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory told the BBC: "What we have found is in the so-called mid-latitude region where the United States is located and majority of European countries are located, the climate benefits of planting will be nearly zero." For the trees to have an impact they need to be planted in the tropics, he said.

Maybe some of those corporations claiming to be going carbon neutral should be asked where their offsets are going.
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