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Sustainable Forests for a Sustainable Climate

By Edited May 6, 2015 5 9

Before the present heated climate debates had begun about the Global-Warming and the ClimateGate, then the weather has always been a safe object of a conversation, whenever one didn't really knew what to say.
A talk about the climate and weather was useful as a neutral small-talk, such as: "Nice weather today. - Yes, it is warm today".
It was a friendly conversation without any risk of getting into a discussion.

Those days are over. Today the talk about the weather can be a risky one.
Well, of course there are still people who doesn't really care or worry about the weather, or whether we have an ongoing climate change.

But there are two other groups of people who have very strong opposite opinions about the climate:
One group are the environmentalists who warn about a global disaster, i.e. the climate changes caused by a man made global warming.
The other group are those who believe that the discussion about the climate changes is a big scam. The purpose of the scam merely being a way to impose guilt on all people (because we all pollute, some more and others less), but if we begin to feel guilty, then we will be more willing to accept higher taxes, and/or adjust our environmental behavior in our daily life.

The environmentalists (the first group) call the others for ignorant, and consequently they even ignore to have an objective scientific debate with them.
Those who believe that the debate about the global warming is a scam (and a big conspiracy) accuse the environmentalists of belonging to a new religion, the MMGW religion (Man Made Global Warming).

Well, I for my part do not have MMGW as a religion, but I do believe that the Global Climate is in a changing phase; and the changes are in directions that will cause huge problems in some areas of the world.
We might very well a decade from now see more refugees, because of the climate changes, than we see today because of wars and political suppressions. The great numbers of those climate refugees will in particular come from Africa and Asia, where some of the areas will have no or little rain, and others will be flooded.

It is therefore my hope that the rhetorical war between the two opposite groups ends, and a serious and sincere debate begins. (It is my humble hope that this article and some of my climate blogs and websites can promote this).

But how is it possible to get these two fighting groups to start a sensible debate, before it might be too late?
The UN's climate meeting in Copenhagen ended without any real answers, neither any answers about how to make a new agreement which would have replaced the Kyoto Protocol, nor did they produce any new evidence which might have convinced those who are skeptics to the global warming theory.

I believe that the politicians and experts who participated in Copenhagen had the focal point a wrong place. The talks were much more about the economy than about the climate; - this was of course interpreted by the "global warming skeptics" that the whole agenda would end in tax issues (and it was even worse that it was revealed that some facts against the global warming theory had been hidden and ignored)
So how should they have done before and at the Copenhagen Meeting in order to engage the skeptics?
Well, in my opinion the starting point has to be an issue which both groups can agree upon; and something which all think of as pleasant (or maybe even beautiful).
I hope that I am not too naive when I suggest the starting point to be a discussion about The Forests.
Everybody can enjoy a walk in the forest, and it will be a pleasant experience no matter whether you do it as an physical health improving exercise, or whether you just enjoy the nature. Some people like to hunt animals, others don't bring a gun, but bring instead a camera. Whatever the reason for the outing in the woods is, then I am certain that we all prefer that the forest is free for pollution; i.e. no garbage floating around on the ground. or any stinking polluted air. A pure natural enjoyment in the fresh air, and the only sound is the wind in the threes and the birds singing.

Green Forrest

Picture from www.forest.cc that contains a lot of useful information about forests: Adventure, recreation, fishing, hunting, ecology and landscaping etc.

But the forests are more than idyll!
The forests are the working place for millions of people all over the world. The forests produces food and firewood for many people, but also more industrial products, such as timber for building material and furniture. Wood is transformed into pulp to be used in the paper industry, and become the raw material in making newspapers, books, and packaging products etc.
Forestry is an industry. But it is, as a whole, a sustainable industry that uses the natural resources without severe damages to the ecological balance, and as a general rule without any severe environmental pollution.
Forestry is not only an acceptable use of one of the Globe's natural resources, it is an extremely important industry, and it is even an industry that cannot be accused of any contribution to Global Warming and climate changes.

Sustainable Forests for a Sustainable Climate
The forests are one of the most important factors which influence our climate. The forests do not produce CO2, on the contrary it consumes CO2; - in fact if there wasn't any CO2 in the air, then all plants and threes would die!

I assume that all (i.e. both of the two opposite groups) agree on that the level of CO2 in the air has a consequence upon the Global Climate, the dispute is more about how much is an acceptable level and in particular whether the possible problems are man made or not.
Having agreed upon the importance of forestry, then the first step should be a debate and a decision about forestry world wide (the problems caused by wrong environmental policies do not stop at the man made borders).

I am convinced that in such a debate, then both groups would realize that they have some wrong ideas about the situation we all are facing.
Let me give some examples.

Many environmentalists find it a super idea to have cars that use ethanol as fuel instead of fuel based upon the fossil oil. Well I have never understood the logic of that idea (in fact I believe it is an extremely sick idea). Those environmentalists that drive on ethanol seem to have forgotten where the ethanol originates from. Some come from by-products from the forestry industry (and this might be OK) but the majority of ethanol come from crops, most often from sugar canes cultivated for this industrial purpose. Sugar! Think about that the next time you tank your car with ethanol. - It is food! Would you also drive a car where the lubricant oil was made of butter? Or a car that could run on milk!

It is not only the environmentalists who occasionally have wrong ideas and arguments. The skeptics of the Global Warming Theory will frequently agree upon that we do indeed have climate changes.
However, they deny that those changes are man made. Instead the changes in the world's average temperature can be explained by extraordinary solar activity etc. And they will maintain that the "Man Made Polluting Behavior" has no effect on the climate.

Well, I believe that the climate changes are caused by many different things, but we cannot change the behavior of the sun, so we must change our own behavior, or the glaciers around the globe will continue to melt.

I have personally seen several glaciers of the world; the one that impressed me the most was Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Mount Kilimanjaro 35 years ago

Mount Kilimanjaro 35 years ago

I worked in East Africa for several years three decades ago, and when I recently saw it again, then Kibo, the top of the mountain had much less snow/ice than before.

Mount Kilimanjaro today

Mount Kilimanjaro today
"Mount Kilimanjaro seen from the air - very little ice remains"
From Wikipedia, Photographer Muhammad Mahdi Karim
"It may be ice free within 20 years, dramatically affecting local drinking water and crop irrigation" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Kilimanjaro

I discussed this with someone from the "Global Warming Skeptics Group":
He himself had been close to Mount Kilimanjaro; and yes (he agreed) there was less ice now than before. However, he denied that this was caused by Global Warming, instead the explanation was (according to him) that the people living around the mountain had cut down the forest; and as a result there was now less rain than before (due to the altitude of Mount Kilimanjaro, the rain would of course have been snow).
Well, well, well, - if that is not "Man Made", then I do not know what "Man Made" is!

So what is the conclusion?
As a start agroforestry is one of the answers!
No matter what the belief is regarding the Global Warming then it is important to promote sustainable forestry in order to get a sustainable climate.

Agroforestry will have to be one of the elements in this; the people living around Mount Kilimanjaro are a good example. However, the burden of saving the climate of the world should not be put on their shoulders; they must be given aid (one way or the other) so then are not forced to cut down the forest for heating and cooking. Such a dialogue with the Third World countries will most likely reveal other areas that need aid in order to secure a developing process in the most climate friendly way.

Let me return to my opposition to ethanol driven cars, because this is also related to forestry. There a many examples of forests (in particular rain forests) that has been cut down in order to grow crops for the production of ethanol. The result is of course that the postulated CO2 friendly car is the complete opposite: What was intended to have a positive effect on the CO2 emission became instead a negative effect, because the calculation must of course include the loss of the CO2 consuming rain forest.
To both the two groups: Take this as yet one example of "Man Made" behavior that influence the environment and pollute the climate.

Agroforestry is of course only a beginning. But it will in many areas be a great start to create "mixed" sustainable areas with a balanced combination of trees (forests), agriculture (crops), and animals (cattle).



Feb 1, 2010 10:13am
"Sustainable" forestry may still damage wildlife habitats, and there are tribes living in various places around the world that have voluntarily had no contact with "civilization." The rights of these tribes must be respected, and the wildlife species, from soil bacteria to large mammals, have a lot of teach us about the environment and may provide significant benefits, that would be lost were loggers to intrude upon the habitat. So along with sustainable forestry, we must be careful to leave enough habitat undisturbed or species may lose their minimum habitat requirements for survival.
Feb 1, 2010 11:27am
I believe that you and I easily can agree. I do not want to impose agroforestry on those locals who have chosen to live in accordance with their traditions (and most likely in harmony with the nature). In fact I mainly suggest agroforestry to those who have had their culture spoiled (in particular during colonial times) and agroforestry (maybe combined with a needed land reform) could be *one of the answers*
Feb 22, 2010 9:49am
Great article; thank you for the post!
Feb 22, 2010 11:27am
You are welcome. I am glad you liked it. Thanks!
Mar 23, 2010 11:22am
Years ago I bought a fairly large forested tract in Canada near the shores of Lake Superior. The area was so beautiful and pristine, even though some logging was done here and there in the area, that I intended it to remain "Forest Forever." I did contract to have the trees thinned, which were crowding the river that ran through. The logger almost 'clear-cut' it!
It grew back quite quickly and I did nothing more for years. A few years ago I rcd notice that a dump had been built near one boundary. Later I rcd. notice the local gov't might put a Wind Farm experiement using some of
my and adjoining tracts, but no details about what cutting or payment or negotiation. More recently they changed the zoning to "Restricted Residential." I wrote that I wanted it to remain forest land only, but no
answer or change to zoning. They did revalue the tax upward.
The point of this long story is how difficult it is to hold back the forces which value 'other human needs' so much more urgently than trying to preserve the land as it was. We understand their needs, but wish they'd
understand ours, and allow us a voice in their planning.
Mar 23, 2010 1:15pm
Thank you for your comments, and thank you for sharing with us your private experience. Yes, I agree, that it is oftentimes difficult to value each 'other human needs' - and the only way to understand this better is to listen to (and respect) each others voice.
Jun 21, 2010 12:57am
Well written. A great topic to write about and to inform others of - in a very nice manner.
Jun 21, 2010 5:44am
Thank you very much for the compliment!
Jun 21, 2010 5:52am
By the way, I have several blogs and websites about the environment, pollution, and the climate change. However, lately I have not been very active within this area - due to my disappointment over the very negative (or lacking) result of COP15, the Climate Conference in Copenhagen last December 2009.

I also believe that it is a wrong/un-professional dialogue between those who are concerned about the Climate Change and those who claim that ClimateGate is a bluff!
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