Amazon forest fires pushing climate change ‘beyond human control’

Amazon forest fires pushing climate change ‘beyond human control’

SOURCE: Climate Change News DATE: October 5, 2017 SNIP: Philip Fearnside, a US-born professor at Brazil’s National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA), has researched the Amazon for three decades. In an interview with Climate Home in his office in Manaus, he explains how climate change is driving forest fires through the most important forest on earth, creating a cycle of carbon emissions that threatens to push beyond human’s capacity to control it. These fires represent something that the forest simply can’t stand up to. The Amazon forest isn’t adapted to fire, it’s not like the savannahs in central Brazil, where the trees have thick bark and are adapted to fires. Amazon forest fires kill a lot of trees. The fire moves through the understory of the forest, burning leaves and twigs on the ground. This is very dangerous for the climate because it’s something that doesn’t depend on people deciding what to do. You can decide not to burn fossil fuels and not to cut down trees with chainsaws. But if a forest is being killed because there are more forest fires, it’s something happening beyond human control. And there’s a limit to how much humans can do to control global...
Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change. Now, scientists say, they’re making it worse

Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change. Now, scientists say, they’re making it worse

SOURCE: Washington Post and The Guardian DATE: September 28, 2017 SNIP: A surprising scientific study released Thursday presents troubling news about the enormous forests of the planet’s tropical midsection — suggesting that they are releasing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon to the atmosphere, rather than storing it in the trunks of trees and other vegetation. “The losses due to deforestation and degradation are actually emitting more CO2 to the atmosphere, compared with how much the existing forest is able to absorb,” said Alessandro Baccini, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the Woods Hole Research Center. Specifically, the study found that tropical forests are losing 425 million tons of carbon annually, on average, which is the net result after you sum up 861 million tons of losses and 436 million tons of gains as forests grow each year. “Forests are losing more carbon than we thought,” Baccini said. “And one reason they’re losing so much carbon is because there is actually a lot of disturbance in the forest. You don’t have to wait for deforestation. You don’t have to only look for places that completely lost the trees.” This is a far greater loss than previously thought and carries extra force because the data emerges from the most detailed examination of the topic ever undertaken. The authors say their findings – published in the journal Science on Thursday – should galvanise policymakers to take remedial...
Logging Plays Bigger Climate Change Role Than U.S. Acknowledges

Logging Plays Bigger Climate Change Role Than U.S. Acknowledges

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: May 5, 2017 SNIP: The U.S. has consistently underestimated the impact that logging has on accelerating climate change and the role that preserving its forests can play in sucking carbon out of the atmosphere. That’s the conclusion of a new report that also seeks to rebut the notion that burning wood is a “carbon neutral” alternative to burning coal and oil for electricity. Published by the Dogwood Alliance, a North Carolina-based forest conservation group, the report argues that the U.S. has placed too much emphasis on protecting the world’s tropical forests, while ignoring the logging industry’s impact on greenhouse gases released from cutting its own natural woodlands, especially older forests. The report comes as the issue of burning wood for energy is getting fresh attention in Washington. This week, Congress, backed by the logging industry, included language in its budget deal that would declare the burning of woody biomass for electricity “carbon neutral,” sparking the latest controversy in a long-running debate. …annual carbon emissions from logging in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010 amounted to nearly 600 million metric tons, more than the emissions produced each year by all residential and commercial...
Forest fragmentation may be releasing much more carbon than we think

Forest fragmentation may be releasing much more carbon than we think

SOURCE: Mongabay DATE: March 31, 2017 SNIP: The earth’s forests have been broken into around 50 million fragments, the edges of which add up to a length that would make it a third of the way to the sun and which increase annual tropical deforestation carbon emissions by 31 percent. This, according to a new study published recently in Nature Communications that reveals forest fragmentation may be much more destructive than previously thought. … Current estimates peg the volume of carbon emissions from the clearing of tropical forests at around 1,100 million metric tons annually. Using field data and computer modeling, the team calculated 340 million more metric tons of carbon may be released globally due to forest edge effects. In other words, the study finds forest fragmentation may be contributing 31 percent more carbon to the atmosphere than previous estimates are accounting...