Keep Loving the Trees
Perhaps you've heard of the recent discovery that living plants generate methane directly. We've covered the original research announcement. This is different than dead plant material being anaerobically digested by bacteria . Of course, people over-reacted grotesquely to the news of living plants generating methane. Think Tank spinmeisters and know-nothing reporters trumpted the discovery, inferring that plants are a principal cause of climate change, and that planting trees is "bad. Enough to drive TreeHuggers nuts. From SciDev Net: "Following the media interest, Frank Keppler at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany and colleagues received numerous emails from scientists and concerned members of the public. Some asked the team whether it was safe to stand near plants or visit the Amazon rainforest". For the straight scoop, see beneath the fold.Speaking to SciDev.Net, Keppler said he wanted to make three points clear to the public.
First, their findings do not mean that reforestation programmes should be condemned. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, so planting them is still beneficial.
When the methane emitted by trees is taken into account, says Keppler, the benefits of planting trees to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide diminish by just one to four per cent — a negligible effect.
Secondly, changes in the overall amount of methane emitted by plants — including changes that could worsen global warming — are likely to be caused by human activities such as deforestation.
Finally, they say that much more research is needed to discover how methane emissions from plants vary according to species, temperature, humidity, sunlight and other factors, as well as how these emissions might change as the environment does.
"To those who are wondering if they should start chopping down trees, Keppler says they should imagine a world without any trees. "What do we have, then?" he asks".
For years our media outlets featured claims from Think Tank "experts" who denied that climate change exists; later, the same sources said that it may be real, but certainly not caused mainly by humans; and now it's so scary we better cut trees down or at least stop planting them.
Maybe we'd all be better off ignoring the mainstream media entirely and just read the original research. Rational understanding leads to rational response, etc.
Simple concepts for TreeHuggers.