The amount of land dedicated to forests, particularly old growth forests, could significantly reduce global warming. Forests are an important use of land in most countries, and in modern times they take on a new, environmental significance. Plant life scrubs carbon dioxide from the air. Carbon dioxide is a main cause of global warming and can be eliminated just by being in the vicinity of certain plants.
Trees are the best carbon dioxide scrubbers found in nature. Old growth trees are especially good at removing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it within their cells. For this reason, old growth trees need to be preserved. The lumber trade argues that the old growth trees can be easily replaced by new trees, but this is simply not the case. New trees do not possess the abilities that old trees have of preventing global warming by trapping carbon dioxide. Some proponents of cutting suggest that certain new trees are capable of trapping more greenhouse gases than the old trees. This is not true when you compare the new special trees to trees that have many decades of growth.
Several studies have been done to estimate the potential impact on global warming caused by deforestation of tropical rainforests. Loggers do not just take out mature trees for lumber. People who want to clear a place to live, work, or farm in the jungle do so by cutting and burning large portions of rainforest land.
Deforestation increases other greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide. Global warming is a foreseeable reality when the rainforest and other forests are destroyed.
Preventing global warming should first focus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. However, deforestation comes in a close second as a cause and should also be part of conservation efforts.
When people learn that forests are important in stopping global warming, they can help preserve them by refusing to use lumber that comes from old growth forests and rainforests. Laws have been proposed to curtail logging as a way to prevent global warming. Bans on clear-cutting, a practice that destroys acres upon acres of old growth trees, have also been suggested.
It is easy and tempting to continue to blame the deforestation problem on “those people” clearing land in the rainforests. The truth is that a tree in your neighborhood is as valuable as one in the rainforest when it comes to removing carbon dioxide. It is important to think and strategize on a global scale but it is important to also act on a local scale. We may well have more impact on the actions of those in our sphere of influence than those half a globe away. Look in your backyard, is there room for a few more trees? If so go plant some.