Forests… the lungs of the earth. It’s true!

Posted on January 14, 2009

A little cliché perhaps, but a realization hit me in the shower, which I’d like to share (the realization – not the shower…), though I can’t really elaborate on it or point you to further resources at the moment.

Forests actually maintain climatic equilibrium. How do I know this? Well, there are two well known attributes of forests (and other plant life I guess):

  1. They respond to increased carbon levels with increased growth;
  2. They have been around for hundreds of millions of years without ever depleting atmospheric carbon levels below what’s needed for life to thrive in a stable climate.

So, there is always enough carbon. And if there’s more than enough, trees respond with positive growth. Then when carbon levels reach a point, plant life stops expanding and maintains that level. Nice one. This is the system that evolved mammalian life.

What we are doing now is increasing atmospheric carbon at the same time as depleting the forests and woodlands the world over. At the same time we are consolidating the problem with methane and nitrous oxide emissions. All this is caused primarily (we’re talking 90-95%) by livestock. And we are doing this at speeds much faster than trees can mitigate, thus we are causing the greenhouse effect, aka climate change, aka global warming.

This is one reason vegetarianism, particularly the healthier option, veganism, is so important for us, our fellow beings and our planet right now.

We need to stop cutting forests for grazing and feedcrops, and thus prevent the future release of more carbon; we need to let trees stand and thus balance the atmosphere in the long term; we need to go veg.