Sunday, November 18, 2007

Canadian Wild Fire Carbon - Tom Gower

In the last few years, as the North heats up, wild fires have been burning, unreported and unopposed, across the top of the world, in both Canada and Siberia.

The latest climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does NOT include this growing source of carbon.

Dr. Tom Gower is from the University of Wisconsin/Madison. In this exclusive interview with Radio Ecoshock, Dr. Gower explains the vast boreal forest of Canada is no longer a carbon sink. It is losing more carbon to wild fires, than the trees can gather up.

This has severe implications for our climate - it becomes a positive feedback loop. The snow melts earlier, the fire season is extended, it's much hotter up North (climate hits the Northern pole much heavier) - it all adds up to a big tinderbox waiting for the next lightening strike.

Dr. Gower's research was just published in the journal "Nature" on November 1st, 2007.

As Dr. Gower says, the recent fires in California as child's play compared to the massive fires in northern Canada. There's just no news crews up there.

This is part of a larger special program on Radio Ecoshock on the forest "carbon bomb." As one of our speakers, temperate rainforest activist Pat Rasmussen says, there is more carbon in the trees, by far, than in the whole atmosphere. It that gets released in a short period of years, it will be a "carbon bomb" changing climate drastically.

In the one hour Ecoshock program, we weigh out reports that the California fires were brought on by climate change (maybe, maybe not) - and then look at new science by Dr. Lara Kueppers who also says the forests of the Rockies are now emitting more carbon than they can capture. Forests are no longer our friends, now that we have changed the climate.

A 60 Minutes program, called the Age of MegaFires, even found an Arizona scientists saying that the American West will lost half its forests in the coming century, due to climate change!
Half the forests going!

We also try to figure out how much carbon is ready to go up in smoke, as the huge dead pine forests of British Columbia catch fire in the coming years. The Mountain Pine Bark Beetle, previously controlled by cold winters, has killed off 32 million acres of trees, and more to come. They are red, gray, dead, and waiting to burn.

The wild thing is that governments don't even count wild fire carbon in their grand plans and promises. In reality, California should take half a million cars off the road just to offset the carbon that came out of the recent fires. Canada must reduce it's emissions even more, because of the carbon coming from northern fires. British Columbia, the same.

These governments are cheating - but Mother Nature (the geo-physical system if you prefer) counts it ALL. No fooling the real atmosphere, which doesn't care where the carbon comes from, or what your excuse is.

We hear George Monbiot explaining a few realities. Will it take a catastrophe to drive us to action?

You can get the full Radio Ecoshock weekly show by podcast, direct to you.
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Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock