Apr 11, 2007

Total destruction of forests predicted to cool Earth

Total destruction of forests predicted to cool Earth (From nature.com)
Large-scale deforestation — long fingered as a contributing factor in climate change — could cool Earth, say the researchers behind one of the first attempts to model the phenomenon at a global scale.

But he doesn't think that his work provides justification for chopping down forests. "One main reason to fear global warming is the need to protect ecosystems," he says. "To destroy forests would confuse the narrow goal [of fighting climate change] with the broader goal of protecting the environment."

Logging is often attacked because living trees help to mop up carbon dioxide, thereby buffering rises in greenhouse gases. But deforestation has different effects in different parts of the world.

Its message, though, might not be popular. After writing about his work in the New York Times, for example, Caldeira received at least one anonymous phone message accusing him of aiding the timber industry. He also says that some researchers might prefer that he didn't promote his message: "There is a sense among some colleagues that one should keep quiet about this."

Read From nature.com