Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Reagan was right -- trees cause pollution and global warming

By Aussiegirl

Not only was Ronald Reagan right about ketchup being a vegetable -- he was right when he said that trees cause pollution. In a startling find scientists have discovered that trees and plants produce large amounts of methane, a so-called "greenhouse gas". They produce it as part of their respiration, and not just from the rotting of dead plant material.

Obviously the climate is such a complex interweaving of countless factors that it is almost hopeless to assume that human activity can in any great way influence the course of climate change.

There have been great climatic changes in Earth's past even before SUVs polluted the planet, and there are still many undiscovered factors at play.

While a slight warming of the climate is possible, it most likely has to do with increasing solar activity on the sun during a time of a supposed solar minimum. At any rate, if you read this article, it turns out that most of the things we thought would lead to improvements in the warming trend and the emission of so-called "greenhouse gases", in actuality will only make the problem worse.

It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

FT.com / World / Americas - Beware how you meddle with climate change

Everyone knows trees are "A Good Thing". They take in the carbon dioxide that threatens our planet with global warming and turn it into fresh, clean oxygen for us all to breathe.

But now it seems we need to think again. In a discovery that has left climate scientists gasping, researchers have found that the earth's vegetation is churning out vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent even than CO2. This is not a product of trees and plants rotting, which everyone already knew was a source of methane; it is an entirely natural side-effect of plant growth that scientists had somehow missed. Yet it is by no means trivial: preliminary estimates suggest that living trees and plants account for about 10 to 30 per cent of the methane entering the atmosphere.

The discovery, reported by an international team of scientists in the current issue of the journal Nature, is adding fresh fuel to the debate over the confidence we can put in global warming science. It does not affect claims that the earth is warming up, which centre on measured effects rather than their likely causes. It does, however, raise serious doubts over grand plans for combating the warming process - such as the Kyoto protocol. The protocol allows countries to offset their greenhouse gas emissions through reforestation programmes, with trees being thought to cancel out some of the warming effect by mopping up CO2. The discovery that these new forests would themselves generate another greenhouse gas raises, at the very least, doubts about the size of the net benefit.


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