Friday, 28 January 2011

Aren't We Neglecting the Fundamental Solution to Greenhouse Gases?

The near total failure of the Copenhagen conference on climate change should be a lesson learned by those who are concerned for carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. There is a growing disillusionment with political solutions that are developed by the elite behind closed doors. The irony was only compounded by the vast array of luxury jets used by the attendees and their opulent lifestyle. The real people of the world saw the glaring ironies and scoffed and rebelled at this environmental circus.
Of course to make the debacle look better, there was an agreement to transfer wealth from countries already in economic tailspins to countries that will certainly abuse the system. China (with the largest carbon footprint in the world) walked away laughing as it blocked any attempts to verify compliance for its environmental claims. All in all, this conference was an unfortunate joke on the public and a embarrassment covered over by weak excuses of success.
Rather than spend this opportunity rehearsing the failure of government to construct a serious environmental plan, my goal is to return the discussion to constructive and pragmatic solutions. To do this, I'd like to establish a few facts that the general public should know. First of all, the most common by volume greenhouse gas is water vapor. No matter what you have heard, water vapor is a substantial part of the greenhouse equation.
Methane is smaller by percentage than carbon dioxide, but it is also considered more harmful to global warming than carbon dioxide. So, why is carbon dioxide the primary culprit when water vapor is the largest volume greenhouse gas, and methane is the most virulent? It seems that there are two reasons that I can discover. Carbon dioxide is directly tied to petroleum, and it is one of the only one that we have a measure of control through industry and governance. The big question is how much control we can really exert, but the fact that there is a control lends itself to the a confused fascination about how we could exert that control.
The oceans and trees are the natural method of capturing and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and that leads to an issue that concerns nations great and small. Deforestation is the opposite end of the equation from burning fossil fuels. Trees convert CO2 to oxygen during photosynthesis. So, why isn't the focus on replenishing trees with as much fervor as it is on controlling fossil fuels?
I sum it up in the phrase, " You can't Tax a Tree." Political solutions require control, taxation, and bureaucratic processes that perpetuate someone's agenda. Trees don't vote. Trees don't pay taxes. And, trees never voice their opinion. They are of negligible interest to politicians until they have some political implications.
The natural and obvious solution is something that all people can support. Anyone can plant a tree. Corporations can plant millions of them. Vast mowed grass areas can be returned to flowering fields with tremendous aesthetic impact. Forest management programs can harvest trees when there is a plan to replant new trees in their place. New growth trees actually sequester more carbon than old growth trees in case you didn't know.
There is no question that we need alternative power and a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. Multiplied billions will be spent on this worldwide issue to create man-made solutions for this immense problem. But, rather than seeking a cure by the artificial processes to remediate the problem, why not create a worldwide urgency to stop deforestation and promote reforestation?
The oceans and trees are carbon sinks that will literally suck the carbon dioxide out of the air and give back refreshing oxygen. We are treating the symptoms of the global problem rather than addressing the cure that will return us to a homeostasis that we all seek. The economics of this problem are better denominated in trees than it is in dollars.
To the politicians, I refer you to the words of Abraham Lincoln; "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."
Michael Richmond is the director of the Green Clean Institute, follow similar comments on TwitterGreen Business Views, and learn more about an authentic Green Business Certification.