Dying Forests May Mean Hotter World

We're losing a major sponge of carbon dioxide: New York Times
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2011 12:10 PM CDT
This 2009 file photo shows trees in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming that have been devastated by pine beetles.   (Michael Smith, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, File)

(Newser) – The New York Times has a gloomy story on the state of forests in the US and around the world and the potential effect on the environment. Vast swaths are dying off: Pine beetles that used to be kept in check by cold winters are gorging on trees in the Rockies; drought and wildfires are decimating millions of acres elsewhere in the US and everywhere from Algeria to Siberia to the Amazon. Because trees absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide—roughly speaking, they counteract the world's cars and trucks, says the Times—the worry is that we could enter a vicious cycle in which temperatures get hotter and trees disappear even faster.

“At the same time that we’re recognizing the potential great value of trees and forests in helping us deal with the excess carbon we’re generating, we’re starting to lose forests,” says a University of Arizona expert. Or ... not: The story notes that rising levels of carbon dioxide can actually help forests grow, and skeptics of the doom-and-gloom camp say that could keep things in check for the foreseeable future. Read the full story here.

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