15 Jul 2011:
Forests Absorb One-Third
Of Fossil Fuel Emissions, Study Finds
Forests play an even greater role in Earth’s climate system than previously known, according to the most comprehensive assessment yet of the carbon storage potential of the world’s wooded areas. Between 1990
and 2007, the planet’s tropical, temperate, and boreal forests absorbed about 2.4 billion tons of carbon annually
, or the equivalent of about one-third of fossil fuel emissions, and re-growth of trees in previously cleared lands absorbed an additional 1.6 billion tons, according to a study published in the journal Science
. During the same period, however, rampant deforestation — particularly in the world's tropical regions — released 2.9 billion tons of carbon annually. Overall, the planet’s forests provide a net carbon sink of about 1.1 billion tons of carbon, or the equivalent of about 13 percent of the emissions produced by humankind annually. According to researchers, the findings suggest that forest protection should play an even more important role in strategies to protect the planet’s climate, including the emergence of carbon markets. “The amount of savings which are up for grabs is very large, certainly larger than what we thought,” said Josep Canadell, an Australian scientist and co-author of the study.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
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Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
Ugandan scientists monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.