The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
40 Scientists: Protecting Forests Is an Urgent Climate Issue
"Avoiding forest carbon emissions is just as urgent as halting fossil fuel use." That's the message contained in a statement written by 40 scientists from five different countries urging the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to consider preserving and regrowing forests as an important part of limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, The Guardian reported.
The IPCC is expected to release a report Monday on how the 1.5 goal can be achieved by emphasizing technologies designed to suck carbon out of the atmosphere, BBC News reported. One of those technologies, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (Beccs), involves growing carbon-sucking plants, burning them for energy and burying the resulting carbon underground. But the statement's signatories worry that such a strategy is unproven and would require land that is better preserved as forest.
"It breaks my heart to think we'd lose half our tropical forests for plantations just to save ourselves," statement signatory Deborah Lawrence of the University of Virginia told The Guardian. "It's horrifying that we'd lose our biodiversity to avert climate change. Losing tropical forests is not somehow cheaper than putting up wind farms in the U.S. or Sahara."
Instead, the letter writers emphasized the carbon capture role forests already play. "While high-tech carbon dioxide removal solutions are under development, the 'natural technology' of forests is currently the only proven means of removing and storing atmospheric CO2 at a scale that can meaningfully contribute to achieving carbon balance," they wrote.
The letter went on to highlight five "overlooked" reasons why preserving and regrowing forests is an important part of fighting climate change:
- The world's forests contain more carbon than existing oil, natural gas and coal deposits combined.
- Forests remove one quarter of the carbon dioxide humans release into the atmosphere.
- Reforestation and improved forest management could reduce greenhouse gas emissions 18 percent by 2030.
- Solutions like Beccs are untested, and it is better to preserve land for natural carbon sinks like tropical forests or peatlands.
- Tropical rainforests cool the climate and create rainfall for agriculture.
"In responding to the IPCC report, our message as scientists is simple: Our planet's future climate is inextricably tied to the future of its forests," the letter concluded.
Lawrence told The Guardian that deforestation has been stalled in the Amazon but has continued in other tropical regions.
"We will have a hotter, drier world without these forests," Lawrence said. "There needs to be an international price on carbon to fund the protection of forests. And countries with tropical forests should maintain large chunks of forests to stabilize rainfall for agriculture and keep a predictable regional climate."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jake Johnson
Calling the global climate crisis both the greatest threat facing the U.S. and the greatest opportunity for transformative change, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled today a comprehensive Green New Deal proposal that would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs over a decade.
The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.
The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.
'This is a Sick Statement': Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Under Pressure for Anti-Environmental Policies, Blames NGOs for Record Amazon Fires
'Work Together' or 'Destroy it': Goldman Prize Winner Francia Márquez on World's Second Deadliest Country For Environmental Activists
In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.
By Stuart Braun
A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.