If carried out correctly - these methods are "worth doing"
- but NOT for the purpose of ameliorating the effects of profligate carbon
dioxide production - they are NOT a cure.
should also be aware than carbon offsetting schemes are always someone's
business idea, and this aspect can sometimes be more important to them than any
aspect of "Saving the Planet".
Tree planting - reforestation
these methods, rather surprisingly, reforestation is the most controversial.
It is the one that seems the easiest, straightforward and should be the
most effective, but it is also the one that can be carried out in such a
way as to actually be harmful rather than useful.
Deforestation has been a feature of human civilizations
right from the earliest days when we first realised there were benefits
from cutting down trees - wood to use as fuel, as a building material and
for a million and one other uses. Open land rather than forest was good
for hunting some animals and then later on it was a way of getting more
land for farming.
Planting trees is a good and useful thing to do almost
anywhere in the world. It helps stop soil erosion, has an effect on climate
stabilization on a local and global scale, provides wood for fuel and building
and a habitat for wildlife.
Appropriate tree planting is always a good thing.
All too often though, the trees that are planted are a
monoculture - just one kind of tree - over a large area. Even worse, sometimes
these are fast-growing non-native trees and the result is a "green desert"
that can actually degrade the soil.
To be useful, trees planted would have to be maintained
in perpetuity (forever), if they were felled and used at any time, the
carbon dioxide they have sequested would simply be released back into the
atmosphere and it may as well never have happened in the first place. In
the worst cases, tree planting carbon-offset schemes are just ways of getting
some subsidized forestry planting for future use, they can be a way of getting
someone else to pay to plant trees that would have been planted anyway.
The wood from these trees could be used for various
purposes such as building, tools, furniture etc. in which case more
carbon would remain locked away as long as the use was continued.
Eventually however it would rot and the carbon be returned to the
Helping to fund these schemes will not deal with any carbon
dioxide you have already emitted. Instead of both of us p**sing in the well,
I do it anyway and pay you not to.
However, it can be of increasing value for the future
as such schemes can potentially last indefinitely and they result in NO
further carbon dioxide being emitted over what is sustainable (such as biomass
energy where the emitted carbon dioxide is used by the next crop).
The thing with a lot of this stuff is that we just don't
really know where it's all going and investing in renewable energy is the
place where it can possibly make the biggest difference in the longer term.
Doesn't result in any reduction of carbon dioxide, but
helps other people (in developing countries) to act to reduce their carbon
dioxide output. Energy efficient light bulbs are cheaper in the long run
however and so are efficient wood burning stoves, so it's more to do with
poverty than global warming.
It's not going to stop global warming and is currently
as unsustainable as a long term approach.
However it is like the rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights
being able to slow the car down so it has longer to deal with the time when
it's really close when it may have thought about getting out of the way
or otherwise avoid what was previously inevitable.
Global Warming |
GW Antarctica |
Carbon sinks |
Carbon cycle | Prevention
| Carbon Offsetting |