Forests in the Fight Against Global Warming
Advances in Ecological Economics series
A range of techniques is employed in teasing out the role of forestry in tackling climate change. Socioeconomic analysis complements the technical data, and in most chapters leads to a policy position being taken. The introduction gives a flavor of the book and summarizes what are considered the major issues surrounding forestry’s role. Global warming is the greatest known challenge facing the world. While future armed conflicts or global pandemics could possibly be more sudden in their devastation, human-induced climate change is already a reality, and we know that, unchecked, it will visit dire consequences on future generations (Parry et al., 2007). We only have a few years in which to act to keep the rise in concentration of greenhouse gases within the limits that will avoid dangerous climate change (den Elzen and Meinshausen, 2007). In economic theory, and in practice, substitutes for depleted resources are readily available. If we run out of potable water supplies because climate change has affected rainfall patterns we can substitute recycled waste-water or desalinated sea water. When agricultural land becomes scarce we substitute fertilizers and pesticides for land, and so increase crop yields. However, there is no substitute for the capacity of the atmosphere, the oceans and the forests to act as sinks and absorb our gaseous wastes, and we are far exceeding that capacity. Unless these wastes can be channeled into caverns and deep into the oceans, a solution that seems unlikely in the time available, we have little choice but to cut...