Cutting down on Carbon (go plant a tree)


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Dear EarthTalk: I recently heard the term “carbon sequestration” in relation to climate change. What is it and how can it help stave off global warming?
Bob Whelan, Pawtucket, RI

Carbon sequestration is simply the intake and storage of the element carbon. The most common example in nature is during the photosynthesis process of trees and plants, which store carbon as they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) during growth. Because they soak up the carbon that would otherwise rise up and trap heat in the atmosphere, trees and plants are important players in efforts to stave off global warming.

Trees and Plants Absorb Carbon Dioxide and Produce Oxygen
Environmentalists cite this natural form of carbon sequestration as a key reason to preserve the world’s forests and other undeveloped lands where vegetation is abundant. And forests don’t just absorb and store large quantities of carbon; they also produce large quantities of oxygen as a byproduct, leading people to refer to them as the “lungs of the earth.”

Preserving Forests is Key Strategy to Help Reduce Global Warming
According to the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the billions of trees in the boreal forest of the northern hemisphere that stretches from Russian Siberia across Canada and into Scandinavia absorb vast amounts of carbon as they grow. Likewise, the world’s tropical forests play an important role in naturally sequestering carbon. As such, environmentalists see preserving and adding to the world’s forest canopy as the best natural means for minimizing the impact of global warming caused by the 5.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide generated by factories and automobiles each year.

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