The green note
forest fires reveal the failure of carbon offsetting schemes
It's an oddly mercantile notion; turning the photosynthesis of extant forests into a scheme which allows companies to continue polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide beyond the limit allowable by law. A recent analysis of California's carbon offsetting programme shows the flaw in this idea.
Contained within the programme is a “buffer pool” — extra forest designed to act as a sort of insurance posed by the risks of fire, disease, climate change and socioeconomic factors. The buffer pool is meant to represent a century’s worth of these risks, and exists in addition to the “main” forests California effectively sells shares in as carbon sinks for extra-heavy polluters.
Unfortunately, it isn't working.
The study has shown that within just the first ten years of the programme, the amount of carbon re-released into the atmosphere from "buffer" forest wildfires alone have depleted at least 95% of the contributions designed to protect the programme for a century. The same study showed that a disease affecting even a single tree species would render the buffer wholly ineffectual.
You can read the study here, if you like.
The Woodland Trust also has a quick video primer on how trees store carbon, if you need a reminder.
The green note will be a regular feature of the newsletter, featuring brief commentary on rewilding, folklore, plant medicine, recent news, discoveries, poetry, books, and anything else interesting happening in the world of plantlife. What can I say? I like trees.