*Would you dispassionately stand by and watch if every priceless Renaissance work of art in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, or Paris’s The Louvre, or 20th century masterpieces held in New York’s The Museum of Modern Art were burned for heat, one by one?
Ladies and gentlemen, our remaining ancient forests are indeed the equivalent to what the great master’s painted. They are Nature’s finest invaluable living, breathing masterpieces on our planet!
Ancient forests provide 7.6 billion procreating humans with more than one of every three breaths of oxygen. They are superlative CO2 warehouses that also buffer against climate extremes.
Trees take CO2 and turn it into cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, or, wood. Each one-ton of an ancient tree’s weight represents 1.5 tons of inhaled CO2 and one-ton of exhaled life-sustaining oxygen.
My colleagues recently reported that 70 percent of wood occurs in the last half of the tree’s life. For some ancient ones, it is the last quarter of their long lives that they accumulate 40 percent of the entire weight of the wood.
Ancient forests are also giant air-conditioners. They create their own micro-climate including seeding clouds, which help keep our planet within a habitable temperature range.
These priceless works of Nature are the sentinels of potent cancer, heart and pain medicines as well as vital habitat for their partners, the insects, the animals, the fungi, the bacteria and the microbes. Ancient forests are not just the lungs of our planet. They are earth’s circulatory system carrying the lifeblood of our planet, its fresh water – every child’s birthright.
Forestry is an insidious industry predicated on raping our mother, Nature. It’s a corporate machine that, over the previous couple decades, has created an insatiable energy demand from wood pellets.
Burning wood for heat, as the forest industry spin machine claims, is not a carbon neutral energy source. It’s a timber grab for the very last ancient trees. Burning wood pellets, in fact, produces at least 13 percent more climate-wrecking greenhouse gases per unit energy than from coal.
In the meantime, 65 percent of the European Union’s “renewable energy” is greenwash, it’s now derived from combusting wood pellets. America and Canada are furiously chopping up their remaining living, breathing masterpieces to power Europe. The demand is outstripping the supply because wood pellet-burning plants have taken-off in Japan, South Korea, China and elsewhere.
So Australia, too, is chipping its exquisite ancient native forests to make a quick dollar on wood pellets by impoverishing Nature.”
Burning Earth’s ancient climate-stabilizing forests to heat up our planet even faster is insanity.
Infuriatingly, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its AR5 report incorrectly relies upon wood pellets and plantations as a carbon neutral process. The Paris Climate Agreement also promotes burning our ancient forests for heat.
It’s hot as hell and it’s getting hotter from combustion-driven heat. The CO2 equivalent temperature is 4.3 Fahrenheit (F) above pre-industrial times and it’s rising.
About a decade ago, my European colleagues predicted that once Earth reaches 4.5F, above pre-industrial times, it runs the risk of all forests beginning to expire.
Their ominous prediction is already ringing true. Earth’s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon, has suffered three one-in-one-hundred year droughts in 11 years with concurrent mega firestorms. Additionally, it lost 500 million ancient ones from one apocalyptic storm. The Amazon is now exhaling more CO2 than it’s inhaling. Unprecedented.
300 zettajoules of fossil fuel ocean heat has enabled trillions of indigenous bark beetles to successfully ambush more than 30 billion mature mountain trees throughout western North America. Across the Australian continent, its forests, too, have turned into giant graveyards.
Clearly, we must now protect all the remaining treasured ancient forests and mobilize immediately, globally, by redirecting $5.3 trillion annual fossil fuel subsidies into a zero-combustion economy.
We have an elegant blueprint and an eager global workforce. What we lack are courageous political leaders willing to protect the people and the planet, not the planet-killing fossil fuel and forestry oligarchs and the morally bankrupt corporations.
We have a very narrow window to respond before our entire planet is too hot for life.”
Dedicated to my intrepid colleague and friend Ed Schultz (1954-2018), a champion for the underdog and our planet!”
Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.
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