Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Festival of the Reforested Trees

If you have not seen it yet, you should check out the latest edition of Festival of the Trees, hosted at Via Negativa. Like other blog carnivals, it compiles recent blog posts by many bloggers, in this case blog posts celebrating trees. It includes one of my recent posts on winged sumac. The photo at right is a stand of Red Maples at Lord Stirling Park.

In addition to posting links to the participating blogs, Dave writes about the important issue of deforestation and the need to protect and restore natural habitats. Deforestation is a major problem not just because of the aesthetic and biodiversity losses but also because forests are major climate sinks. Clearing a forest for a different land use (whether agricultural or residential development) releases much of that stored carbon into the atmosphere and leaves fewer trees to soak up other carbon emissions.

Dave links to one article that gives a fairly high estimate of the climate cost of land use changes:
"Across the U.S. as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases," said Stone....

Stone recommends slowing what he terms the "green loss effect" through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. Forested areas provide the combined benefits of directly cooling the atmosphere and of absorbing greenhouse gases, leading to additional cooling. Green architecture in cities, including green roofs and more highly reflective construction materials, would further contribute to a slowing of warming rates. Stone envisions local and state governments taking the lead in addressing the land use drivers of climate change, while the federal government takes the lead in implementing carbon reduction initiatives, like cap and trade programs.
Planting more trees in cities and suburbs is one green program that I can get behind!