“Globally, forests (tropical and mid-latitude) are NOT disappearing: today, they are 99.5% as much as they were at mid-century, and in the US in particular, have increased significantly”
This is not true on many, many levels.
You are misusing the term “forest”. A natural forest is represented by a wide range of plants (and animals) that are part of the system referred to as a forest. A forest has large mature tree, intermediary aged trees, young trees, canopy, understory, substrate each providing uniqe environments for a wide rnage of bacteria, algae, animals, understory plants, and ultimately the trees. You get the picture.
We may have lots of trees now, but there are so many acres of commercial tree farms and pine plantations that many people mistake for real, ecological, forests. These operations control develoment and what types of trees are grown, they kill off all other plants, no or limited understory, etc. You get the picture. You cannot compare commercial tree growing operations to natural forests. Its like dumping a large bag of salt into a swimming pool and then declaring that we have more ocean now then before- hey its a big body of salt water.
I may concede that there may be more trees (not forests) in the US since the middle of the century (1940’s-1950’s). After WWII there was a (GI BIll) construction boom that called for a tremendous amount of wood. At the same time modern ag practices increased productivity and allowed for fewer acres in crops. Lots of farmers may have found acres of pine may have brought a higher profit then then crops.
Next Point- Deforestation for firewood is a tiny bit of the problem. The biggest problem is commercial, raw material procurement. Coal and oil is not much of an issue.
In regards to increased production via CO2. Could be a blip and wouldn’t be surprising. However you are mistaking crop productivity with photosynthesis. Crop productivity isn’t really a good measure of photosynthesis potential. NAtural forest land provides the diversity that allows for different fluctuation. Ag fields and controlled commercial tree plantations are not that helpful in the long run.
To the extent that there is a difference - and in some areas there is quite a bit of one - much of it is due to the overpopulation of deer. One Smithsonian report found areas where there hasn't been a new young tree in 20 years or more in some of the study areas. Likewise, a comparison of areas where deer are plentiful and where they are completely excluded concluded that based upon where deer are excluded, the areas where deer are plentiful reduces the populations of birds and small mammals by roughly 90%.
As you pointed out the biomass exists underground as well, though that is also less disturbed by most logging.
Or...they are more helpful, as they don't simply recycle CO2 between parts, but absorb for growth and storage.
Er, uhm, no.
Please re-read (read for the first time ?) “The Skeptical Environmentalist” for the actual status of woodlands, “commercial” forests, rain forests, and - well, bluntly put - jungles. See also his analysis of “diversity”, the numbers of acres/hectares of each, and the re-growth of forests.
See also the Idos’ website www.co2science.org for a better (more accurate) treatment of what is actually happening with CO2 levels, and plant growth due to higher CO2.
In regards to increased production via CO2. Could be a blip and wouldnt be surprising. However you are mistaking crop productivity with photosynthesis. Crop productivity isnt really a good measure of photosynthesis potential. NAtural forest land provides the diversity that allows for different fluctuation. Ag fields and controlled commercial tree plantations are not that helpful in the long run.
Er, uhm, wrong. False. Dead wrong.
1. The biggest part of the carbon sequestering happens in the EARLY RAPID growth that IS typical of the denser, faster-growing “commercial” forest you so despise for some reason. Mature forests have very little growth overall (they are akin to deserts under the canopy - and cannot grow new trees and smaller plants UNTIL forest fires burn out the canopy), and what fewer trees are present are slow-growing older ones. The rest of the earlier trees have DIED and decomposed back - releasing their “stored” CO2 back into the air.
Commercial forests, and regrowing natural forests after clearing-cutting for wood fires - STORE CO2 from the air into the wood fibers, and ONLY IF those wood fibers are REMOVED from the forest into wood products and houses after 12-18 years growth, ONLY THEN is the CO2 removed from the air for long periods. (Eventually, of course, even wood houses are recycled, but that too is ignored by the enviros’ who are typically careless with their “facts”.)
Otherwise, commercial forests re-grow faster and denser than natural forests. They have comparable insect and small animal populations - a clear cut area is essentially identical to a forest fire cleared area. Except that commercial forest ARE REPLANTED with year-old healthy seedlings and so grow FASTER than natural pollen scattering.
2. Wood burning is the main cause of loss of forests, trees, woodlands, and individual trees and sticks and brush in Africa, SE Asia, and elsewhere. ONLY where commercial harvesting can move the wood to sawmills is it a factor, and then - most of the time, they cut the larger more valuable trees.
3. Coal is by far the biggest contributor to CO2 production. One unit of coal (atomic weight = 12) burns to produce 44 units of CO2 (atomic weight 44 = 12 + 16 + 16) The billions of tons of coal burned each year do directly add to the natural CO2 present in the atmosphere - about 1/3 of ONE percent of all greenhouse gasses are from man-made sources of ALL kinds.
The rest (99.97 percent) of the greenhouses gasses ARE ALL NATURAL, and CANNOT be decreased by controlling, then destroying the world's economy. Though that is what the enviro’s want. 4. I would NOT call a 27% increase in plant production a "blip" due to increased CO2 in the atmosphere - that "blip" is feeding billions of people. Steadily and constantly. Every day. It (photosynthesis IS how plants grow!) also affects plankton and trees and algea and coral and grass and moss and ....