Is Planting More Trees a Way of Solving Global Warming?


Increasing the world’s forest cover is a useful mechanism for mitigating atmospheric CO2 concentrations because of the ability for plants to remove CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. However, not all forests are equal in this regard. Northern forests are generally re-growing today after having been largely cut in the 19th and early 20th centuries, so there is less opportunity to use these forests for additional mitigation. Tropical forests are by far the most important because they suck up the most CO2 every year and because they are intentionally being burned and cut down at a rapid pace.


Tropical Deforestation Impacts

Tropical deforestation contributes about 20 percent of the human-produced CO2 each year, so reducing this deforestation effectively reduce CO2 emissions. However, even a vigorous global reforestation program would not be sufficient to offset all anthropogenic CO2 emissions from human sources. Reforestation may assist in reducing the rate at which atmospheric CO2increases (and provide additional ecological benefits as well), but the stabilization of CO2 will still require direct reductions in CO2 emissions.


View the Series: Climate Change FAQ


Source: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions


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