Could a Saharan Forest End Global Warming?

NASA scientists are floating the idea that turning deserts on the equator into lush forests could single-handedly end global warming.

In a recent article in The Journal of Climate Change, cell biologist Leonard Ornstein and NASA climate modelers Igor Aleinov and David Rind make the case that greening deserts on the equator is the quickest and most effective way to cool the atmosphere.

From ASLA's The Dirt blog: "Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and other northern African countries, along with central Australia, would all be suitable sites. Forestation must occur in sub-tropical areas where there is little chance of darker forested landscapes soaking up more sunlight and therefore warming the earth's surface."

From the Guardian UK: "Planting trees to combat rising carbon dioxide levels is controversial on a large scale, because most places where it has been suggested, such as Canada and Siberia, are in the northern hemisphere where the resulting change in surface colour, from predominantly light snow and rock to predominantly dark trees, could soak up more sunlight and cancel out the cooling benefit."

Full Story: New Geoengineering Idea: Turning Deserts into Forests



Trees In The Desert And CCS

They argue that planting trees in the desert is cost effective, because it is cheaper than Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), but CCS is one of the least cost-effective proposals for dealing with global warming. Much more cost effective are energy conservation, solar thermal energy, wind energy, reflective roofs and roads, and many other proposals.

It would be very expensive to use this tree planting project as the one solution to global warming, just as it would be very expensive to use CCS as the one solution to global warming. But it might make sense as one part of the solution, used to the extent that more cost-effective methods are not sufficient.

Charles Siegel

Reforesting for carbon sequestration

Preserving forests and planting new forests are important tools in reducing carbon emissions. They aren't the only tools, but they are critical ones.

Too often in modern development, forests and large individual "champion trees" are viewed as collateral damage in building projects. Smart planners and elected officials will require that natural resources such as forests be undisturbed or minimally disturbed in plans.

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