Friday, April 13, 2007

Trees -- what about them?

I thought the forests were our friends. Now comes this article by Steven Milloy about a new study showing

that while tropical forests exert a cooling influence on global climate, forests in northern regions exert a warming influence — and it’s not just a trivial climatic effect.

Based on the researchers’ computer modeling, forests above 20 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere — that is, north of the line of latitude running through Southern Mexico, Saharan Africa, central India and the southernmost Chinese island of Hainan — will warm surface temperatures in those regions by an estimated 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.

Most of the warming is predicted to occur north of 50 degrees latitude — that is, north of the line of latitude running just north of the U.S. border with Canada, through Northern France, Northern Mongolia and Southern Siberia.
Now you could say that the warming and the cooling are both good. That the higher latitudes need a little more warmth and the tropics a little less, so that works out. Will the countries in the North start clearcutting? Hmm, if Canada, Russia, Norway, and so on, lose the warming effect of their forests, they'll need to keep warm somehow. How handy to have a big pile of firewood right there! Oh, wait, burning it would give off CO2, can't do that. Oh dear, oh dear.

Update: Russell Seitz has this in the Wall Street Journal: An Inconvenient Tree.

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