March 8, 2008

Tree Hugger

"One major misconception, if not outright distortion, in the anthropogenic global warming debate are the motives and concerns of the skeptics. Those who oppose the alarmist attitude towards AGW are often portrayed as uncaring anti-environment capitalist whose only concern is increasing profits and corporate greed.

I can not speak for the countless scientist and individuals that oppose this hysteria about global warming, though I sincerely doubt that many fall into this characterization, I can only speak for myself. I am originally from arguably the greenest state in the United States, Oregon. I grew up with a sincere and lifelong love of nature. A feeling that was enhanced having lived many years in a small rural county in Virginia which bordered Skyline Drive along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the most anticipated events in my life is my frequent trips to visit my son and grandchildren near Asheville North Carolina, of course to visit with my loved ones, but also to once again savor the forest and streams of the county where they reside.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog, forest. I doubt that few persons that listen to the constant barrage of hysteria regarding man made global warming are aware of a very important fact. Around twenty five percent of all man made CO2 emissions have nothing to do with the burning of fossil fuels. That is correct, about 25% of all man made CO2 emission is the result of deforestation, here is a graph from the IPCC that shows the breakdown.

Let me give you an idea of what this represents. Deforestation is about equal to entire emission created by worldwide transportation. In other words If all the semi's in the world were taken off the highway, all the planes in the world were grounded, all the boats in the world sat in ports, all trains in the world were stopped at the stations and all the cars in the world were parked for a year, it would equal the CO2 emissions of one year of global deforestation. Or if you wish, if the entire United States stopped all of its CO2 emissions from all sources it would accomplish the same thing.

As one skeptic put it
"Fossil fuel is going to be with us for a long, long time. And the declared enemies of fossil fuel, the global warming alarmists, are acquiring power in politics and media that any student of history should find frightening. Their prescriptions so far - banning various forms of energy consumption and condoning massive new rounds of deforestation - may very well do more harm than good. Combating global warming, should it really be a problem, might begin through initiatives to immediately restore the earth's tropical rainforest canopy to at least 5 million square miles."

Ed Ring is the Editor of EcoWorld, reporting on clean technology and the status of species and ecosystems.

Let me ask why do we hear so little about this apparent major component of the AGW discussion? Excuse my cynical nature here, but deforestation is almost exclusively a third world and developing nations problem, nations that dominate membership in the United Nations. As a matter of fact here in the United States, more wood is grown each year than is harvested, that has been the case for the past fifty years ! But it is hard to push agendas on people without first instilling them with an extreme sense of guilt, the fact that the U.S. has a net increase in forest over a fifty year period is something to be proud of, not feel guilty about.

Although I have serious doubts, in fact I am pretty well convinced that the hysteria about fossil fuel emissions causing catastrophic global warming are unfounded. I am equally convinced that destruction of the world's tropical rain forest is a ecological disaster in progress. A circumstance that is in need of global concern and action far outweighing the unfounded hysteria over fossil fuel use, which as we all know discharges CO2 the very gas that trees and all plants breathe .

I am not alone in this by any means; even those that believe AGW is a threat, see the impending disaster. Worse yet the hysteria of global warming is only compounding the problem.

Form Global Justice Ecology Web Site
2) The increasing demand for land for agrofuel plantations is causing deforestation and destruction of some of the last and largest primeval forests, which are being logged and burned to clear land for these agrofuel plantations. In Indonesia, millions of acres of primordial rainforest are at stake. The government plans to clear vast tracts of this forest for oil palm plantations for biodiesel for export to Europe, threatening the existence of wildlife including orangutans, rhinoceros and tigers.

3) The logging and burning of forests for agrofuel plantations releases huge quantities of greenhouse gases which are unlikely to be offset by the agrofuels created from the crops grown on these former forest lands. The burning of the forests of Indonesia each year (largely for oil palm plantations) makes it the world's third largest producer of global carbon emissions, even though most of the population lives in poverty.

"There is an inherent and acutely serious problem within the report. On the one hand, it leaves us in no doubt to how vital conservation of the planet´s ecosystems and carbon sinks are to averting the worst predictions made in the previous sections of the report. On the other, it proposes the large scale use of the biosphere to satisfy demand in the transport and energy sectors."

Mayer Hillman, senior fellow emeritus at Policy Studies Institute on IPCC report

"It is difficult to see how an emphasis on protecting rainforests and curbing deforestation is compatible with using biofuels as a solution to climate change when there are no policy instruments that guarantee biofuel expansion without accelerating deforestation."

Simone Lovera, managing coordinator of the Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide coalition of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples Organizations

NASA have shown that the rate of Amazon deforestation directly correlates with the world market price of soya []. That price is expected to rise sharply as demand for soya biodiesel grows. Soya
expansion is linked to deforestation not just in the Amazon but also elsewhere, including the Pantanal, South America's Atlantic Forest and a portion of the Paranaense forest in Paraguay and North of Argentina. In Argentina, more than 500000 ht of forest land were converted to soya plantations between 1998 to 2002


Again, for all those think that the debate over anthropogenic global warming is unimportant. That only good will flow from the reduction of fossil fuel use, the unintended consequences are beginning to pile up. The destruction of one of the most majestic and important eco-systems on earth is increasing as the result of unfounded, unproven and unscientific alarmism. Sad, so very sad