Clearcutting the Climate, Biofuels, Restoration
ForestClimate.org highlights the climatic impacts of deforestation, including from forest biofuels.
Deforestation causes climate change. This author was a co-organizer of "Clearcutting the Climate," a conference in January 2008 that brought together forestry scientists and climate experts. ForestClimate.org hosts videos of the conference presentations.
Biofuel production plans threaten to worsen the climate crisis. Deforestation disrupts rainfall patterns that are a key factor in the greenhouse effect. Large scale biomass proposals would require enormous amounts of forests to be consumed. ForestClimate.org documents these interconnections.
The timber industry is promoting forest biofuels as a replacement for their business losses from the burst of the housing bubble. Electrical utilities like burning trees because they see them as baseload power that can augment intermittent renewable sources. Privately, some of the utilities probably know that the fuel sources for the power grid are near or at their "peaks." Natural gas in the US is past peak, despite exaggerated claims for "shale gas" extracted through "fracking." Coal is near its peak, globally, and supplies are similarly exaggerated. Even uranium is approaching its peak.
Solutions to protect forests include:
- selective forestry that maintains canopies, which provides more board feet in the long run
- cooperatives instead of limited liability corporations to manage and restore tree farms
- demand reduction for wood and paper products
- shifting away from endless growth models toward steady state economics, which is appropriate for a round, finite planet
- mycoremediation: don’t burn slash piles, use mushrooms to convert brush piles to soil