Researchers discover trees soak up more CO2 than originally thought
In a study that could cause the U.S. to rethink its designation of biomass as green energy, Australian scientists have found that living forests soak up far more carbon dioxide than previously thought.
Researchers at the Global Carbon Project based at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia detailed the volume of CO2 absorbed by the world’s forests and found that they soak up 10 percent of the emissions caused by human activities.
The researchers found that in total, established forests and young regrowth forests in the tropics soaked up nearly 15 billion tonnes of CO2, or roughly half the emissions from industry, transport and other sources.
But the scientists calculated that deforestation emissions totaled 10.7 billion tonnes, underscoring that the more forests are preserved the more they can slow the pace of climate change.
A major surprise was the finding that young regrowth forests in the tropics were far better at soaking up carbon than thought, absorbing nearly 6 billion tonnes of CO2 — about the annual greenhouse gas emissions of the United States.
This summer the state Dept. of Environmental Quality granted a permit for a Wolverine Power Cooperative coal burning power plant with the potential to release more than six million tons of CO2 a year.
Regulators gave the project positive marks for promising to generate five percent of the utility’s power with renewable resources by burning 255,000 tons of freshly cut Northern Michigan trees each year.
Opponents of this project argue that the forests provide more benefits when not burned as fuel.