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Planting Trees Doesn't Always Help

In order to fulfill the Kyoto Agreement, some countries volunteered to plant more trees, but it turns out that this doesn't help nearly as much as everyone hoped it would. A new study shows that forests in the US and other northern mid- and upper-latitude regions are playing a smaller role in offsetting global warming than previously thought, but intact tropical forests are removing an unexpectedly high proportion of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, partially offsetting carbon entering the air through industrial emissions and deforestation. The message from all this? We need to save our rainforests!

For years, one of the biggest mysteries in climate science has been the question of what ultimately happens to the carbon emitted by motor vehicles, factories, deforestation, and other sources. Of the approximately 8 billion tons of carbon emitted each year, about 40% accumulates in the atmosphere and about 30% is absorbed by the oceans. So what happens to the 30%? Scientists think that forests absorb the rest. But WHICH trees?and does planting new ones work? Once we find this out, we can take the right kind of action.

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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