Friday, November 27, 2009

Re-Forestation and Lumber

NPR published a story about encouraging the use of forests as carbon sinks to mitigate global warming. I did a paper about this back in an undergraduate class in environmental economics, but the interesting development is the use of re-forestation in carbon offset markets. Offset markets provide a relatively non-bureacratic way of putting the technique to use, compared to the massive, direct government program I contemplated as an undergraduate.

I'm surprised that we don't hear about more efforts to improve the carbon-sequestering benefits of building with wood. It seems reasonable that if wood can be modified into some long-lasting form suitable for truly large buildings, then we can sequester lots of carbon in our buildings. Under a straight forest sequestration plan, I'm sure that there is an upper limit to how much carbon can be sequestered per acre of forest. But if the trees are eventually converted into super-lumber for building purposes, then the same acre can potentially provide much more sequestration through an endless series of tree harvests.

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