More Trees May Not Offset Global Warming

Published May 24, 2007

Regarding “A plant takes root: City to plant more than 100,000 trees” (April 28), Boston is behind the science regarding carbon sequestration. Whatever the other perceived benefits of tree planting may be, the latest scientific research indicates trees planted in Boston have a net warming effect, rather than a net cooling effect, on the planet.

The April 17 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that although trees do sequester carbon dioxide, their dark foliage absorbs more sunlight and heat than is offset by carbon sequestration. As a result, forests above 20 degrees latitude are expected to increase temperatures by an estimated 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100.

The latest science should serve as a reminder that we need to learn much more about global warming before we rush to potentially counterproductive “solutions.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute.