Scientist who penned recent study on forests and global warming concerned over mischaracterization of his findings



    "There is no question that greater conservation of Boreal forests is
    necessary to maintain natural systems and protect biodiversity"

    VANCOUVER, April 20 /CNW/ - A recent study by Ken Caldeira and colleagues
entitled Combined climate and carbon-cycle effects of large-scale
deforestation, was mischaracterized by industry-linked Fox News reporter
Steven Milloy, seemingly in an effort to ignite public debate over the role of
forests in the global warming. The study has also been misconstrued in other
publications as supportive of logging in northern forests.
    "Global warming is an issue at the top of the public's mind right now, so
it's no surprise that industry has gone on attack in an effort to slow the
debate, and more importantly, stall taking meaningful action." said
ForestEthics' Strategic Director, Tzeporah Berman. "There is no question that
forests right here in North America from the Boreal to the west coast
temperate rainforests store enormous amounts of carbon and that the large
scale industrial logging of these forests contributes to global warming."
    In fact, the co-author of the report that has sparked this public
dialogue, Ken Caldeira said today, "I am concerned about our study being
misapplied as an excuse to chop down the forests in the name of saving the
environment. The stories suggesting existing boreal forests should be cut down
to help mitigate climate change are a complete mischaracterization of our
work. There is no doubt that protecting forests is essential for maintaining
ecological services and biodiversity. It is obvious that greater conservation
of northern forests is a net environmental benefit." Caldeira went on to note
that, "We simulated a very unrealistic scenario in which all the trees are cut
down and left to rot on the ground. We did not consider the effects of forests
providing shade for deep permafrost soils, which could potentially release
substantial amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. It is a
preliminary study of a highly unrealistic scenario that should be followed up
with careful analysis relevant to specific projects."
    The study by Caldeira and colleagues reports on results of mathematical
modeling. It is a work in progress that speculates on the role of
reforestation and global climate but excludes critical ecological features
that affect whether a forest is a net source or sink. For example, it did not
assess the effects of forest loss on carbon stored in deep soils. Removal of
forest cover allows more sunlight to hit cold northern soils which can melt
permafrost and release significant amounts of stored carbon.
    Last month ForestEthics produced the first in a series of reports
highlighting forests and global warming. The report, Robbing the Carbon Bank:
Global Warming and Ontario's Forests, details how logging the intact Boreal
forest in Canada is escalating carbon dioxide levels and increasing global
warming.

    The report's findings include the following:
    
    -   Canada's boreal forests store a whopping 47.5 billion tons of carbon
        -- 7 times the entire world's fossil fuel emissions- a giant carbon
        bank account.

    The report recommendations include:
    -   Protection of forest ecosystems in Canada's forests with a priority
        on intact, old forests and critical species habitat such as caribou
        range;
    -   Growth of recycled and re-used wood and paper products;
    -   Development of longer harvest rotations for optimal forest age for
        forest carbon storage, and use of less intensive harvest techniques
        to protect soil carbon stores; and the reduction of opportunities for
        fires in forest ecosystems;
    

    ForestEthics recognizes that strong action must be taken to dramatically
reduce fossil fuel emissions in order to combat global warming. In addition,
the International Panel on Climate Change reports that forests (including the
Boreal) are huge storehouses of carbon, and forest loss is responsible for
about 20-25% of the GHG emissions. It also finds that we should encourage
efforts to preserve existing forests and plant new ones, including in the
boreal, as a means to counter-balance climate change. The recent Stern report
also found that, "Action to preserve remaining areas of natural forest is
urgent."(1)
    The Caldeira et. al. study is not inconsistent with this conclusion.

    For more information and to view the report online, visit
www.forestethics.ca.

    ForestEthics, a nonprofit with staff in Canada, the United States and
    Chile, recognizes that individual people can be mobilized to create
    positive environmental change-and so can corporations. Armed with this
    unique philosophy, ForestEthics has protected more than seven million
    acres of Endangered Forests.

    
    -----------------
    (1) Stern, N. et al. 2006. Stern Review on the Economics of Climate
        Change.
    




For further information:

For further information: Tzeporah Berman, ForestEthics Strategic
Director, (250) 935-0061; Dr. Ken Caldeira, Carnegie's Department of Global
Ecology, (650) 704-7212

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