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Potential for Carbon Bomb

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 1 month ago

Logging in Canada's Boreal Forest could trigger "carbon bomb" impacting global climate, says report


TORONTO, April 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Logging in Canada's Boreal Forest is exacerbating global warming by releasing greenhouse gases and reducing carbon storage, says a new Greenpeace report released today. It also makes the forest more susceptible to global warming impacts like wildfires and insect outbreaks, which in turn release more greenhouse gases.


The report warns that if this vicious circle is left unchecked, it could

culminate in a massive and sudden release of greenhouse gases referred to as

"the carbon bomb." Canada's Boreal Forest stores 186 billion tonnes of

carbon-equivalent to 27 times the world's annual fossil fuel emissions. A

widespread outbreak of forest or peat fires could release much of this carbon,

causing a disastrous spike in emissions.


Turning Up the Heat: Global Warming and the Degradation of Canada's

Boreal Forest collects the best available scientific literature of the past

decade. It concludes that intact areas of the Boreal Forest should be made

off-limits to logging and other industrial activity-particularly in its

biologically rich southern regions- to curb this dangerous cycle.


"Canada can help slow global warming by protecting what's left of the

Boreal Forest," said Christy Ferguson, a Greenpeace forests campaigner. "But

if logging and mining continue to fragment the forest, carbon will be

released, global warming impacts will become more intense, and the global

climate will be put at risk."


Elizabeth Nelson, a researcher at the University of Toronto and co-author

of the report, cautions that logging continues to cause greenhouse gas

emissions long after the trees are gone. "Over two-thirds of the carbon stored

in the Boreal Forest is found in its soils. When the forest cover is removed,

the soil decays, releasing additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over

the following months, years, and even decades," she said.

Intact areas of the Boreal Forest resist and recover from fires, insect

outbreaks, and other impacts better than fragmented areas. These areas also

give trees, plants, and wildlife the best chances of migrating, adapting, and

surviving in a changing climate.


"We already knew that logging in Canada's Boreal Forest was putting key

species like the woodland caribou at risk. Now we know that it poses serious

risks to the global climate as well," said Jay Malcolm, an associate professor

at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Forestry who reviewed the report.

"Intact areas of the Boreal Forest are essential to maintaining the health of

the ecosystem in a changing climate."


Other key findings from the expert-reviewed report:


- Logging removes roughly 36 million tonnes of aboveground carbon from

Canada's Boreal Forest each year-more carbon than is emitted each year

by all the passenger vehicles in Canada combined.

- The area of North American Boreal burned by forest fires doubled

between 1970 and 1990. As forest fires become larger, more frequent,

and more intense, more and more carbon dioxide is being released into

the atmosphere.

- Logging accelerates permafrost melt. When permafrost melts carbon

dioxide and methane-a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon

dioxide-are released into the atmosphere. Intact forest cover may delay

this melt for decades or even centuries.


The report, executive summary and high-resolution photos are available

for download at:





For further information: Brian Blomme, Greenpeace Communications, (416)





© 2005 CNW Group Ltd.

posted to ClimateConcern

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