On the anniversary of President Obams’s Climate Action Plan (June 25) here is what the Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell released a new report. The report showed that forest, wetlands and farms in the eastern United Sates naturally store 300 million tons of carbon yearly, which is equivalent to nearly 15% of the greenhouse gas emissions EPA estimates the country emits each year or an amount that exceeds and offsets yearly U.S. car emissions. Secretary Jewell had this to say, quote:
“Today we are taking another step forward in our ongoing effort to bring sound science to bear as we seek to tackle a central challenge of the 21st century- a changing climate. This landmark study by the U.S. Geological Survey provides yet another reason for being good stewards of our natural landscapes, as ecosystems play a critical role in removing harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that contributes to climate change.”
A forest, an ocean or any other natural environment viewed in terms of its ability absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere can be a carbon sink. Carbon moves between them in an unbroken cycle. This continuous movement of carbon means that forests act as sinks at different times. There is another term used and we were not sure if the terminologies were synonymous, although they seem to include the same info. Here is how it is described by the ECO Preservation Society.
“Carbon sequestration is the process through which agricultural and forestry practices remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The term “sinks” is also used to describe agricultural and forestry lands that absorb CO2, the most important global warming gas emitted by human activities. Agricultural and forestry practices can also release CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”
A key finding is the Great Plains study is currently an overall “carbon sink,” meaning it takes up more carbon than it emits. In addition, the amount of carbon sequestered offsets most of the emissions of nitrous oxide and methane from this region. This is a great thing. There is a lot of new terminology being used as well as new ways of approaching reversing global warming.
On a national scale, the amount of carbon that is currently stored per year in ecosystems within the Great Plains is about 21 percent of emissions from personal vehicles and 3.6 percent of total fossil fuel emissions nationwide. The values for vehicle and total fossil fuel emissions are not part of the USGS study but were calculated using the 2009 EPA national greenhouse gas inventory report.