Nate Hagen - The 6th Pool - Frankly | YouTube (13 min 06sec)
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Summary of Nate Hagen's Video
Further comments on harvesting forests
Our immediate and foremost objective should be to reduce emissions of CO2 and its equivalents to the atmosphere as soon as possible so as to avoid potential tipping points.
Planting more trees will absorb CO2. There are peer reviewed publications on the rate that particular species absorb CO2, and each specie has a CO2 absorption profile while growing from a sapling to a fully grown tree. It is an advantage to plant fast growing trees so that CO2 is absorbed as soon as possible.
Note that planting trees is a somewhat futile exercise if we do not at the same time reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. Paying someone else to plant trees each time we take a flight might salve our conscience, but it does not cut the mustard when it comes to an accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. It will take time for that planted tree to absorb the CO2 emissions that you contributed to and we need to reduce CO2 emissions now and not later.
Cutting down trees and burning them will result in CO2 emissions at a time when we can ill afford to increase CO2 emissions. It will take time for replacement trees to absorb the CO2 emitted from previously burned trees. Sustainable harvesting with a balancing of emissions countered by absorption from the same forest takes time to establish. Sustainable harvesting with a zero CO2 impact occurs only when the CO2 emissions of a small cohort of a population of trees (a forest) which are cut down and burned are matched by the CO2 absorption of new trees that are planted and by trees that are growing and maturing. The dynamics of emissions and absorption are more complicated to model than that of, say, human populations. A steady state and stable human population is simply achieved when deaths at all ages equals births over a prolonged period.
Any form of CO2 equivalents emitted to the atmosphere adds to and accumulates in the atmosphere. Methane emissions are initially more potent. Greater focus than that which is current should be placed on reducing methane emissions. It is now that we need to reduce all forms of CO2 equivalents. It is no solace that the impact of methane disappears in the future while current methane emissions contribute to potentially triggering tipping points with a resulting cascade of further potent methane emissions from permafrost.
In summary, it is the dynamics of emissions and absorption which will determine the increase in levels of CO2 equivalents to the atmosphere. Actions now to mitigate the impact of climate change are better than belated action in the future.
The European Commission has removed subsidies on using wood pellets, sawdust etc. for home heating in recognitions of limits to forest biomass in Europe.
The global standing forest we have today is around a third smaller than it was when we started the agricultural revolution.
We are now globally using more wood in total than we were 150 years ago.
Only 10% of harvested timber is used for heating in the United States.
Natural gas provides 67% of heating in the United States compared to timber which provides 4.4%.
Many forests in the United States are inaccessible and too energy costly to harvest.
Only 2.7% of an accessible forest can be harvested each year.
If the United States were to harvest timber for heating instead of using fossil fuels, then most forests would be denuded within 10 years with an average of 4.7 years.
Many people do not full appreciate the ecological services that forests provide.
Our forests are the second largest sink of carbon after our oceans.
The Amazon forests are now a net source of emissions due to burning and deforestation.
Forests globally sequester about 60% of our fossil carbon from emissions, but when we subtract the impact of deforestation and burning of timber, our global forests sequester about 15% of carbon emissions.
Current climate change models do not fully take into account the dynamics of forest growth, harvesting, and deforestation.
We urgently need to plant trees and protect our existing forests.