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Climate scientist angry over mischaracterization


April 24, 2007
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Scientist Ken Caldeira is upset with what he calls a mischaracterization by Fox News of a study he wrote on the e…

Scientist Ken Caldeira is upset with what he calls a mischaracterization by Fox News of a study he wrote on the effects of deforestation.

The study, entitled Combined climate and carbon-cycle effects of large-scale deforestation was taken out of context by the news service, Caldeira feels, in an effort to ignite public debate over the role of forests in global warming.

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Global warming is an issue at the top of the publics mind right now, so its no surprise that industry has gone on attack in an effort to slow the debate, and more importantly, stall taking meaningful action, ForestEthics strategic director Tzeporah Berman said. There is no question that forests right here in North America from the Boreal to the west coast temperate rainforests store enormous amounts of carbon and that the large scale industrial logging of these forests contributes to global warming.

It is with this reasoning in mind that Caldeira is worried about the misconstrued interpretation of his study. I am concerned about our study being misapplied as an excuse to chop down the forests in the name of saving the environment, he said. The stories suggesting existing boreal forests should be cut down to help mitigate climate change are a complete mischaracterization of our work. There is no doubt that protecting forests is essential for maintaining ecological services and biodiversity. It is obvious that greater conservation of northern forests is a net environmental benefit.

Caldeira further noted that, we simulated a very unrealistic scenario in which all the trees are cut down and left to rot on the ground. We did not consider the effects of forests providing shade for deep permafrost soils, which could potentially release substantial amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. It is a preliminary study of a highly unrealistic scenario that should be followed up with careful analysis relevant to specific projects.


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