You may not believe this, but Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from Orange County, CA has suggested that cutting down trees in the Amazon rainforest could be a good way to reduce climate change. In a Congressional hearing, Mr. Rohrabacher said, “Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rain forests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases? Or would people be supportive of cutting down older trees in order to plant younger trees as a means to prevent this disaster from happening?” (Source: New York Times)
Trees convert CO2 into oxygen during photosynthesis. Doesn’t everyone who made it past ninth grade know this now? The naturally occurring carbon is part of the carbon cycle which exists as a balanced system, but all the human-made CO2 and methane are not part of that balanced system. They are additional carbon, which is upsetting the balance and trapping heat within the atmosphere causing it to increase in warmth. (A very basic explanation, but why does someone like a Congressman not understand this?) It should be pointed out that this is the same Congressman who said a period of climate change over fifty million years ago, might have been related to dinosaur flatulence. Tropical forests actually absorb about 18% of all CO2 created by fossil fuels and human activity according to a University of Leeds study.
Mr. Rohrabacher gave a typical politician’s response to the news articles about his profound misunderstanding, saying his view was misrepresented by the media, “I do not believe that CO2 is a cause of global warming, nor have I ever advocated the reduction of CO2 through the clearing of rainforests or cutting down older trees to prevent global warming”, and goes on to say he was asking “…if he (Todd Stern, climate change advisor) was considering a policy that would address naturally emitted carbon dioxide, which makes up over 90% of emissions.” (Source: Rohrabacher.gov) Even in his attempt at a rebuttal, he shows a shocking lack of awareness.
Naturally-emitted carbon dioxide is part of the carbon cycle that is within the balance of the whole system. It is human-generated carbon that is the problem. Deforestation contributes to climate change; it definitely would not be considered a solution because forests hold carbon within them and take it out of the air. Also peat bogs naturally hold about one quarter of the carbon stored in land plants and soils. Oceans also naturally absorb carbon, and are the largest carbon sink in the world. It is thought they absorb about one quarter to one third of all the human-made carbon. Don’t tell Rohrabacher about all the free natural carbon sequestration provided by forests, peat bogs and the oceans though, as he might recommend getting rid of them all.
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