Forests Need more than Raking | Climate Denial Crock of the Week
The study, published on Wednesday in Science Advances, found that natural solutions to global warming could offset the amount of pollution equivalent to what’s released from every car and truck on the road in the nation. Along with forests, coastal ecosystems, grasslands, and farmland all have the potential to sop up a significant portion of the world’s greenhouse gases. The study, which involved 38 researchers, looked at 21 different natural measures that could prove essential in the unfolding climate catastrophe.
“The overall magnitude of the potential was really surprising to me,” said Joseph Fargione, the principal author on the study and The Nature Conservatory’s director of science for North America. “There are a lot of things people may not realize have the potential to store carbon and contribute to solving climate change.”
Fargione noted that natural solutions don’t just trap carbon but come with co-benefits to human health and the ecosystem. For example, rotating cover crops (plants grown in the off-season to protect the soil), can store half a ton of CO2 per every acre. On top of that, cover crops can build soil health, hold onto nutrients, and reduce nutrient and sediment pollutions.
Reforestation topped the list of the biggest carbon sinks, with an absorption potential equivalent to taking 65 million passenger cars off the road. Forest and fire management, such as biomass thinning and prescribed burns, go hand-in-hand with reforestation efforts. Given that trees are such excellent carbon sinks, they also run the risk of releasing all that carbon when burned in catastrophic wildfires, like the ones currently raging across California. Fargione said that restoring the natural fire regime could prevent major carbon loss and, more importantly, “save homes, save lives, and improve air quality.”