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Trees Subsidize Climate Change Fight

March 17, 2009

Many of us know the basic principles that underlie the global carbon cycle. Carbon is emitted into the atmosphere through respiration and burning of organic materials and fossil fuels. Much of that same carbon is then absorbed back into the earth through terrestrial and oceanic biological processes. When more carbon is emitted than the earth can naturally absorb, carbon stays in the atmosphere creating the greenhouse effect which causes climate change. Understanding the carbon cycle is the key to fighting climate change. Collectively, we are going to need to find ways to reduce carbon emissions from carbon sources and continue to protect and enhance carbon sinks. One of the most accessible carbon sinks are trees, with tropical forests absorbing 4.8 billion tons of CO2 a year — or to put it another way, trees are absorbing 18% of total global emissions. As one scientist succinctly states, “we are receiving a free subsidy from nature.” It is correct to state that trees do represent a free subsidy as we ramp up our efforts to fight climate change, but should we just consider trees’ effects on the carbon cycle to be a bonus or should we actively be promoting trees as part of the fight to stabilize our climate? Organizations like Carbonfund.org, the UN, Conservation International, the Rainforest Alliance, RGGI, CCAR, the CCBA and so many others advocate for a comprehensive approach to fighting climate change that includes reforestation and avoided deforestation. Through the voluntary carbon market, financial incentives are created that encourage forest preservation and reforestation. By persevering and expanding forested areas we are not only helping to maintain valuable carbon sinks, but many forest-based projects offer a wide variety of economic and social co-benefits as well. Fight climate change and support market based initiatives to maintain and expand our natural carbon sinks– forests. Calculate and offset your carbon footprint with Carbonfund.org and choose to support our third-party verified reforestation projects.

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