The carbon-emitting companies pay the farmers to not cut down the trees or to plant new trees. The idea is that the trees, which gobble up carbon, will store up the carbon from the atmosphere and offset what the smokestacks spew.
Blake Sullivan, of the Macon-based Carbon Tree Bank, has 26,000 acres of forest in the state under contract for carbon banking.Why is this suddenly a business?
“Georgia has an abundance of forests right here, and trees are like the lungs of the Earth,” he said. “They inhale carbon and exhale oxygen. We can be part of the solution right here in our own backyard.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is gearing up to regulate how much carbon both fossil-fuel burning power plants and oil refineries can pump into the atmosphere.
Proposed limits are expected to be made public later in 2011 and could become law in 2012.
I am a pine tree farmer, so naturally I’m interested in this subject. Georgia has more forests than almost any other state, which are the base for one of Georgia’s biggest industries, so this is a big money subject for the whole state. A subject on which Georgia could lead the nation. Especially considering the recent study that shows Georgia forests worth more standing than incinerated.
There is a downside:
Colleen Kiernan, the director of the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club in Atlanta, said that while her group is all about saving trees, they aren’t the cure-all for the environment.That’s true. But we also need to stop deforestation and the erosion, flooding, and the lowered water tables it causes. That plus if carbon trading were implemented so as to favor planting real forests such as longleaf pines with native warm season grasses as in the existing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) instead of monuculture slash pine plantations with no undergrowth, that could lead to increased species diversity and more jobs through hunting, fishing, ecotourism, etc. The jobs are in the trees: reforestation.
“Holding onto trees is just a Band-Aid on the bigger problem,” Kiernan said. “We need to stop burning fossil fuels.”
The AJC doesn’t quite get the reason for carbon trading right:
Carbon emissions, gases produced by burning wood and fossil fuels such as coal and oil, are believed by many scientists to trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and act like a greenhouse, warming up the planet.This isn’t a matter of belief. It’s a matter of decades of research by scientists all over the world, reviewed by other scientists, and published in peer-reviewed journals. No scientific professional society in the world any longer doubts the reality of climate change. In the U.S. an oil-industry disinformation campaign does continue, leading to for example the fifth U.S. or British board of inquiry into any wrongdoing in climate science, this one by the U.S. Commerce Department Inspector General’s office, which reported back last month Scientists Are Cleared of Misuse of Data. Let’s not let a few oil-funded politicians’ “beliefs” get in the way of the science, which shows that climate change is real and we need to do something about it. Let’s get on with real issues, such as whether and how much carbon trading is a good idea, and how to implement it and other means, such as solar, wind, wave, tide, efficiency, and conservation.