Adaptive methods in an ever-changing climate

Adaptive methods in an ever-changing climate

Clintin Brummer

The environmental impact that we, as humans, have had on our planet has been made clear. For many years now we have been warned but the general population seems unaffected. Recently, York Timbers held a seminar on the ever-changing climate, including the effects upon the forestry industry. Martin Herbert led the seminar. Having spent most his life in the forestry industry, his experience and background is of importance.

Within the last 50 years alone we have seen our average global temperature rise twice as fast as within the last 100 years. His presentation called Commercial Afforestation: the Anthropocene made quite the impact on everyone in attendance. Martin Herbert started off with a detailed explanation of how the Earth has changed over the last few thousand years; all due to the composition of destructive gasses within our atmosphere. As the earth began to cool, allowing continents to form, life sprang into action (humans have not evolved yet during this time). After thousands of years of cooling and life prospering, we eventually came along. Life was easy, due to the stabilising average global temperature our farmlands exploded. And so did our population – our numbers soared from a few thousand around the globe to a few billion.

Within the last one hundred years, the Earth’s temperature has risen equally to what it has taken the Earth a few thousand years to lower. The evidence cannot be denied: We are killing the Earth and doing so without worry. How can one determine these statistics?

Scientists can analyse soil and stone samples to determine their composition; this gives one insight into the conditions Earth faced so many years ago. For example, the amount of silica found within a rock can tell how dense the magma flow was during its creation.

Martin Herbert then continued: “You, as foresters who go out there to take your temperature measurements, don’t plant for the climate today. You should choose a genome type suited to 20 years from now, because that’s the temperature changes we are going to face”

Ending on a positive note, Herbert explained how the forestry industry plays a role in the air filtration processes. Understanding the balance is critical for Carbon dioxide, Methane and Halocarbon, which are greenhouse gasses. These gasses control the temperature of our planet; without these gasses, Earth would be at a constant -18 degrees Celsius. Too much of these gasses and the Earth’s surface temperature could reach anywhere in excess of 400 degrees Celsius.

Currently, our planet is warming at a rate which does not allow time for the Earth to adapt. But forestry could severely help lower our Carbon levels. On average, one adult tree absorbs anywhere from 40 to 50 pounds of Carbon Dioxide annually.

“Wood turns to paper or wood gets made into furniture lasting many years, this is a very good way of locking In Carbon. We should be proud of our industry because we are making a difference,” said Martin Herbert. His enthusiasm was shared by those in attendance from York. Given the fact that the plantations in Southern Africa are the largest man-made forest in the world, not only are we making a difference, we are also leaders in the purification process.

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