As someone recently complained about the Gnomes of Davos in their World Economic Forum: “What strikes me most about the WEF is how little disagreement there is. The largest matters on earth are at stake (supposedly) yet the conferees don’t argue. They don’t debate. All points seem smugly settled.” Except, perhaps, the one about whether trees are good or not. As we noted in our Jan. 11 newsletter, there has been a sudden turn against trees among the guardians of climate orthodoxy. This notion that by planting them in large numbers people could offset their spewing of carbon pollution and then carry on business as usual apparently diminishes the imperative of the great cosmic transformation of our lives, economies and social customs and so it had to be cut down and mulched. And, as Zeke Hausfather tells us, carbon offsets are a scam. Meanwhile Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot pat us on the heads and say trees are key. So who knows, maybe climate alarmists might start having discussions, among themselves and with others, instead of chanting slogans and enforcing orthodoxy.
As Monbiot puts the pro-tree view, in children’s story-hour style, “There’s a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little and builds itself. It’s called… a tree.” Yet Hausfather points to a Guardian study saying “more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by biggest provider are worthless, analysis shows”.
As we continue not to go down the conspiratorial rabbit hole, we also urge people who believe in an AGW crisis not to think that companies whose offsets set them off are deliberately lying. Rather, they believed what you believe, and ran into practical difficulties you have not unless you are, say, the Chancellor of Germany. Or the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who just bailed on the whole do-gooding-by-act-of-imagination business.
The Guardian is of course all-in on climate alarmism, including in this story. But it says:
“The forest carbon offsets approved by the world’s leading provider and used by Disney, Shell, Gucci and other big corporations are largely worthless and could make global heating worse, according to a new investigation.”
Strange how often everything makes it worse on climate. Though it’s not clear whether the conclusion, if valid, is that trees don’t work or that the offset scheme in question wasn’t actually planting them, stopping them from being cut down, deterring monoculture etc.
It’s even odder that many people have decided that far from promoting tree growth, CO2 is killing off our wooden chums:
“This shift – echoed across a warming world – is a distinct phenomenon from trees dying because of direct human intervention such as logging. These trees are dying without humans laying a hand on them, at least physically, and they are not resprouting. Forests cover 30% of the planet’s land surface, and yet, as humans heat the atmosphere, some locations where they would have grown now appear too dry or hot to support them.”
And of course just as warming kills cute polar bears and helps disgusting poison ivy, “Iconic species such as giant sequoias and Joshua trees are succumbing in remarkable numbers” and some wretched scrubby bush is growing instead. Boo!
The herd of independent minds are in sync here. The New York Times emailed “Why some scientists fear a treeless Amazon” to attract readers to a warning that “Some Brazilian scientists fear that the Amazon may become a grassy savanna – with profound effects on the climate worldwide.” Some other nits think grass absorbs CO2, better perhaps than trees, so there’s another promising thing to debate here. Along with how it can be climate change devastating trees squares with the massive greening of the Earth since 1980.
On a less edifying note, the fact that one person cited in that Guardian story said “Now’s a good time to go visit national parks with big trees. It’s like Glacier national park – now’s a good time to see a glacier before they’re gone.” Glacier park being the place where, famously, signs warning that all the glaciers would disappear were themselves disappeared because the ice didn’t leave on cue.
While we’re opening cans of carbon-neutral worms here, the idea that plant food kills plants is part of a curious tendency of environmental radicals to become anti-nature. Including “one of the most famous and celebrated professional philosophers in the United States” who apparently feels that “human governments ought to prevent cheetahs from eating springboks as a matter of justice.” Whether it’s OK for wild cats to eat wild bugs, or the farmed kind, remains unclear.
A recent report here in San Diego is that esturine eel grass is captures the largest amount of carbon in the county. Let's look around and see what else we see overlooking.
No Greta, it is not just trees.
I've been told that it would take 650 trees to offset the carbon footprint of the average Canadian. The estimated number of trees in Canada divided by the population comes out to about 9000 trees per capita. If you are Canadian, you met your 'net zero' target in mid January.
And no, I'm not concerned about those trees disappearing anytime soon. Especially not if atmospheric CO2 continues to increase (thanks China!).
When carbon credits were first brought in and the buying and selling of them, the New Zealand government under Helen Clark was going to nationalise them. I thought it was just another tax because I thought it illogical that carbon dioxide could change the climate. Anyway more and more has come out since so I would recommend watching Tom Nelson's interview of Donna Laframboise on her investigations into the IPCC. It will make your mind up!
Thanks Ian. That's a great interview!