Monday, November 30, 2015

The Amazon rain forest, Offsetting CO2 and Climate Change

The Amazon rain forest is 5,500,000 square kilometers. This large area of trees has created a carbon sink in the Amazon. Carbon sinks are a huge collection of CO2 where the carbon absorbed is more than what is emitted. This rain forest however could result in a huge threat to the climate. With the climate changing it pushes the heat to rise and results in droughts that could kill the trees in the rain forest and release the carbon it’s been storing. The public's opinion of this carbon sink was positive because it appeared that we had been keeping more CO2 out of the atmosphere. However, recent research presented at the talks today show a recorded increase in the biomass (including CO2) of the rain forest trees. With these conditions plus our changing climate, the rain forest has the potential to release a lot of carbon we have been "saving" to offset other types of carbon emissions. If these trees would happen to emit all of their carbon it could increase the rate of climate change because it is a source of potential carbon emissions that hasn’t been accounted for. 

 Programs that promote offsetting CO2 emissions by planting trees could contribute to this potential problem. Along with the possibility of displacing indigenous people from the forests by buying and planting trees these programs can’t guarantee that the trees will not die and emit the carbon it had been storing anyway. We are still emitting CO2 with our transportation and lifestyle choices. By investing in offsetting we feel better about our emission rates but what if by conserving all of these trees and planting more we actually end up not only hurting the local indigenous populations but also increasing the chance for climate change to occur at a faster rate because it is creating another/ bigger carbon sink? The next question that this leads into is: how does this effect polices that are trying to be enacted by our political leaders?  From what was suggested at the conference talks today this only provides an even greater incentive to try to deviate the climate from changing. With more research, scientists can get a better idea of exactly how much carbon could be potentially released. This proposes a call for funding not only for research in this area but also to implement potential policies and actions. By doing this the hope is to avoid such a problem from occurring or to take preventative steps to decrease the amount of damage it could do to our climate.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post reminding us all of the importance of carbon sinks. Let us know if you hear anyone pointing out the immense capacity of regenerative organic agriculture to remove CO2 from the air and sequester it as carbon in the soil.

    [See Rodale Institute's very-well-documented publication, 'Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change'.