Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Science News

Careful Where You Put That Tree 190

Ant writes "Wired News is reporting that according to Stanford University's atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira, forests in the wrong location can actually make the Earth hotter. From the article: 'Plants absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, so scientists and policy makers have long assumed new forest growth helps combat global warming. At an American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco earlier this month, however, Caldeira rolled out a provocative new finding: Trees may be good at capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but their dark leaves are also very efficient at soaking up sunlight, which is later released as heat. At certain latitudes, the net effect of these two processes is warming, rather than cooling.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Careful Where You Put That Tree

Comments Filter:
  • by burni ( 930725 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:36AM (#14336012)
    Do as before, it´s good what you do, do the best you can

    - save energy
    - use insulation, improve insulation, (it works as a two way effect,
    a good insulation stops heat from escaping in the winter,
    and in summer stops heat from wandering in (with a house with a good insulation
    you need less power too heat up your house in the winter, and you need less
    power for your aircooler in the summer, because the chill is preserved as in
    a fridge )

    The problem is, that the processes involved in trees and the hole climate
    system are complex, and hard to understand, and so a single isolated findings
    or fact might not concur with the system, even climate isn´t the same as weather, it´s the interaction between local processes and global processes.

    On the one hand, tree-letters reflect light (as brigther the letters are, the more light is reflected) and trees also have a cooling ability too,
    they transfer water from the roots to the letters where it evaporates and the process of evaporation transfers heat through the vapour, and so providing an insulating layer atop of the ground, preserving the humidity within the ground,
    by limiting the vapour from the ground through the layer of trees.

    Even trees/wood keep the surrounding area cooler, than bare rocks can do,
    the darker the rocks the less they are reflecting the light, the hotter they are.

    You can simply check this while walking in the wood and off the wood
    on a hot summer day, under the trees it´s cooler, and if you ever made
    a walk on rocky grounds on a hot day, you´ll starve too reach a wood or even a single tree to rest, but trees and especially their roots also have an anti-erosion effect, it´s visible there where wood got destroyed in favor
    of agriculture, especially visible in brazil,

    the ground under the rain-forest, is a 2-5(max) meters layer of earth,
    when you burn all the trees you can do a 2 years agriculture,
    furtilized through the charred trees, (the expensive trees are choped before)
    but after the ground is degraded and leached, the countrymen leave the bare grounds.

    Naturally in the rain-forest it rains, and so the rain erodes the degraded grounds and what you can see than is where the rain-forrest is based on .. rocks, pure rocks, hard to bring back, the rain-forest with it´s micro-climate
    has a stabilizing effect on the global climate .. so planting alternative trees,
    is a try to substitute the binding of CO2 in biomass, but this must
    be also said for a limited time, as long as the tree lives.

    And there is even a historical missmatch, because in days before the
    industrial revolution, there was extremly more wood, the rain forest in south america eroded dramatically over the years, even europe was widly covered with large compounding woods, there was less agrocultured land.

    So you can plant the trees without worry, and without mentioning the environmental effects trees have, they are also good for children to
    climb or to build a tree-house.

  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @11:39AM (#14336023) Homepage
    What the devil are you talking about? The average temperature is -63 C with the highest temperature being 20 C. I'd hardly say Mars is currently suffering from Global Warming. If you're going to make a stupid post, at least get your facts right. Sheeesh

    Since it is Christmas, I shall be kind to such a response. Mars [] is [] experiencing [] Global [] Warming [].

    So is NASA lying? Or don't you believe in their facts?

  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Sunday December 25, 2005 @01:22PM (#14336283) Homepage Journal
    Actually, whilst RTFAing, I was inspired to wonder if this study had logging interests behind it.

    The problem with localized landscaping is that it fails to take microclimates into account. Frex, Santa Clarita (the next valley north of L.A.'s San Fernando Valley) is actually the terminus of a river valley that reaches all the way to the Pacific Ocean without significant interruption. Used to be at 2.30 every afternoon the ocean wind arrived and cooled the SCV down, making summer afternoons pleasant (rather than scorching hot in the usual manner of the high desert). And so it was until galloping development completely filled the midvalley, bringing with it a solid swath of new landscaping. The increased humidity from said landscaping was enough to create a permanent pocket of heavy air that blocks the afternoon ocean wind -- so now the SCV stays hot until after dark. This happened in the space of only a couple years, immediately following the first big growth spurt.

    But speaking from 21 years' observation, this doesn't seem to have affected any of the surrounding area in any significant way.

  • Re:I'm so torn (Score:5, Informative)

    by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Sunday December 25, 2005 @02:24PM (#14336471)
    "c) Even small increases in temperature can cause significant changes in the weather. One word that sums this up well: Katrina."

    Climatologists have said that at the current rate of global warming a net change in hurricane severity is still quite a ways off.

    Katrina was bad only because of where it hit. Any other category 3 would've done the same thing to the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was a category 4 and tore up large chunks of Florida. Not only would Andrew have done to New Orleans what Katrina did, it probably would've been worse, since Katrina was only a category 3 when it hit land for the second time (it was only a category 1 when it hit Florida).

    The strongest recorded storm at the time of landfall between 1992 and 2005 was a category 4 (Andrew), not a category 3 (Katrina). Storm severity was worse 13 years ago, when the globe was marginally cooler. Katrina was not a direct result of global warming, it was just an average storm that hit a very ill prepared area.

  • by NixLuver ( 693391 ) <.moc.citerehck. .ta. .etihwts.> on Sunday December 25, 2005 @03:15PM (#14336630) Homepage Journal
    Trees are storage devices for solar energy. Every inch a tree grows represents a huge amount of sunlight converted to solids in the form of the materials of the tree. When we burn wood, we're releasing that energy - tanstaafl, you know.

    Anyone who has been downhill from a forested hill in Missouri during high summer knows that trees store energy; you can detect a significant temperature gradient from the concrete to the trees - even though concrete has a much higher albedo than the leaves and needles of most of our indigenous trees. I would wager only actually replacing snow with trees would increase temperature.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2005 @10:33PM (#14337844)
    And of course China doesn't need to spend that extra 2% to save 30% per year... which isn't fair and will hurt the economy.

    You want to talk about fair, an American outputs more than 7 times [] the amount of CO2 than a Chinese citizen (figures from 2002).

    The Kyoto Protocol was an attempt to show the developing world that developed countries were able to small steps towards reducing their own consumption, as a sign of good faith. Kyoto was never the end-game, it was merely an easy first step (with minimal economic loss, indeed many argue it will bring economic gains in R&D). You instead are arguing that the poorer countries on this earth, who are still trying to bootstrap themselves into the industrial revolution should make the first step instead.

    I'll tell you what isn't fair. That some people on this earth is screwing up the world in an unsustainable manner that will ruin it for everyone's children. Not committing to Kyoto or something similar will hurt the economy more in the long-run. And rather than a planned process as we reduce our oil consumption, it will cause panic and chaos as the Oil Crisis in the 1970's did.

  • No it isn't... (Score:3, Informative)

    by splerdu ( 187709 ) on Monday December 26, 2005 @12:01AM (#14338121)
    Katrina was bad because of its size. In fact it was so large that the potential for damage was said to be greater than some previous category 5 hurricanes.

    Here's a look at Katrina from NOAA [] /katrina/katrina-satellite-t.gif []

    Compare it to Hurricane Andrew []

    Now to category 5 Hurricane Camille []

    You'll see that while Katrina may have had ultimately lower overall windspeed, it had a lot more energy (as evidenced by its size). Whereas many hurricanes will weaken and dissipate after making landfall, Katrina had so much energy that it was able to sustain its strength and make a second landfal even after venturing far enough inland to cause huge damage.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling