Reducing greenhouse gases may not be enough to slow climate change

Nov 11, 2009

Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning Professor Brian Stone publishes a paper in the December edition of Environmental Science and Technology that suggests policymakers need to address the influence of global deforestation and urbanization on climate change, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Stone's paper, as the international community meets in Copenhagen in December to develop a new framework for responding to climate change, policymakers need to give serious consideration to broadening the range of management strategies beyond greenhouse gas reductions alone.

"Across the U.S. as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases," said Stone. "Most large U.S. cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole - a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change. As a result, emissions reduction programs - like the cap and trade program under consideration by the U.S. Congress - may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live and where land use change is the dominant driver of warming."

According to Stone's research, slowing the rate of forest loss around the world, and regenerating forests where lost, could significantly slow the pace of global warming.

"Treaty negotiators should formally recognize land use change as a key driver of warming," said Stone. "The role of land use in global warming is the most important climate-related story that has not been widely covered in the media."

Stone recommends slowing what he terms the "green loss effect" through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. Forested areas provide the combined benefits of directly cooling the atmosphere and of absorbing greenhouse gases, leading to additional cooling. Green architecture in cities, including green roofs and more highly reflective construction materials, would further contribute to a slowing of warming rates. Stone envisions local and state governments taking the lead in addressing the land use drivers of climate change, while the federal government takes the lead in implementing carbon reduction initiatives, like cap and trade programs.

"As we look to address the issue from a land use perspective, there is a huge opportunity for local and state governments," said Stone. "Presently, local government capacity is largely unharnessed in climate management structures under consideration by the U.S. Congress. Yet local governments possess extensive powers to manage the land use activities in both the urban and rural areas."

More information: The article is available at http://pubs.acs.org/journal/esthag .

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

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jerryd
3 / 5 (4) Nov 11, 2009

Far better plant more food trees, plants in urban areas even if you don't eat them yourself, let gleeners come in to harvest them. That cuts farm land needs, cools the urban area, cuts fossil fuel for shipping, etc too.

Another grow in yards things like industrial hemp for winter heating instead of fossil fuels, cutting their heating cost to a little labor. Most homes can grow 2 crops/yr

Another is better insulation to cut heat loss from buildings and make them produce their own power from wind, solar.

These cost little or paid for in energy savings in under $5yrs so no net cost, in fact very cost effective, even profitable!!
defunctdiety
5 / 5 (2) Nov 11, 2009
hemp for winter heating instead of fossil fuels

I've seen some of your posts, jerryd, I know you're not stupid, so why are you trying to make it seem like this is a good option over fossils? Hemp is still organic matter. When you burn it you are oxidizing carbon-hydrogen, carbon-nitrogen, and carbon-x chemical bonds, you are still releasing CO2, CO, NOx, H2O, CH4 (volatile organics), etc. and it will be a lot dirtier than the energy produced by a controlled combustion source.
defunctdiety
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 11, 2009
I need to amend the above:

Why, if you are concerned about AGW, are you trying to make it seem like burning hemp is a better option than fossil fuels? However if you are acknowledging reality, i.e. that the ACTUAL concern is sustainable energy and releasing carbon is not acutally a concern for the future of mankind, than you are correct, hemp is a good option.
NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (2) Nov 11, 2009
I have started a google discussion group devoted to the topic of geoengineering to stop runaway greenhouse effects
http://groups.goo...-warming
russcelt
3 / 5 (3) Nov 12, 2009
Since publication of The Population Bomb by Paul R. Ehrlich in 1968 the public/media/political leaders have known that the core problem is the quantity of human beings on the planet. But most of us have chosen to ignore the issue because it did not suit our personal agendas. Eventually we'll have to pay the piper.

A God like power to alter our environment requires God like wisdom and responsibility as an average. Sadly this course of learning has a long way to run. And too many groups think they have a vested interest in delaying graduation.
Roach
5 / 5 (1) Nov 12, 2009
while I acknowledge the urban impact of this study it does point out an inherent flaw in the global warming concern. If cities heat up it doesn't drastically affect flora/fauna, the city really took it's toll already, also if the temperature readings are skew in favor of heavily populated areas, then the numbers are again wrong, I've always noticed weather on a farm is a little cooler than surrounding cities. And let's be honest a large fraction of the heating in a city is from the cooling of the buildings within, not some other factor, releasing that many BTU's from a concentrated area will obviously affect the areas temperature, regardless of energy source.