When Will They Get a Clue?!

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Fri Jan 23 02:18:05 EST 1998


In article <885013061.192217089 at dejanews.com>, dwheeler at teleport.com wrote:

> I think what is bad for us may actually be good for trees. People at OSU
> have noted that trees grown in higher CO2 environments tend to grow more
> rapidly.

Yes, and because they respire less they can conserve water better.  However,
you should remember that to most of the world, OSU means Ohio State 
University, home of the Buckeyes.  Unlike Oregon State U, they have a
successful football team.  :)
 
> I'm actually more concerned with overall CO2 levels. Since naturally
> occurring fires need a certain ratio of O2 to burn, and the CO2 levels
> are increasing, it may not be too long before forest fires will be a
> thing of the past...along with BBQ's, campfires, and my pellet stove.

And breathing.  If your pellet stove goes out, so do you.

> I guess maybe some folks are beginning to figure out that the vast oil
> and coal deposits which have been burnt for the past 150 years may
> eventually have an impact on the environment.

> Speaking of which, how did these deposits form anyway? Wouldn't the
> massive coal beds found over the world have to have been deposited in a
> fire-less environment?

Exactly.  If you take a look at a peat bog, you see a coal bed on its
way to formation.  The carboniferous era was dominated by shallow seas
full of decaying vegetation.  The atmospheric oxygen level was quite 
a bit higher than it is today, allowing giant insects that would 
suffocate in a modern atmosphere.  Eventually the swamps and bogs got
buried, where heat and pressure converted the plant matter to coal.
 
It may be possible for intensive forestry to remove quite a bit of CO2
from the earth's atmosphere.  Forests normally reach a steady state where
decay releases about as much CO2 as the trees utilize.  However, if we
aggressively log large areas and remove the wood from the decay cycle,
we can lock up a huge amount of carbon in durable wood products.
Burning the forests, like the recent conflagration in Indonesia, just
makes a mess to no good purpose.

Over the long run, the earth has disposed of excess CO2 throught the 
formation of CaCO3 (chalk/limestone/marble) deposits by sea critters.
Coal and oil deposits are miniscule compared to the huge layers of
fossil seashells scattered around the world.

-- Larry



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