Here's something you don't see every day: an environmentalist bashing an environmentalist.
Yet, such was the case Wednesday when Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace, slammed the new Leonardo DiCaprio film "The 11th Hour" as the "latest climate-change rant" representing "another example of anti-forestry scare tactics" which sadly indicated that "we're losing sight of some indisputable facts."
As a result, "[t]his film should be a good, clear reminder for us to put the science before the Hollywood hype."
As reported by The Vancouver Sun (emphasis added throughout, thanks to all who brought this my attention):
Here's a key piece of information DiCaprio, collaborator and long-time activist Tzeporah Berman and the leadership of my old organization Greenpeace are ignoring when it comes to forests and carbon: For British Columbians, living among the largest area of temperate rainforest in the world, managing our forests will be a key to reducing greenhouse gases.
As a lifelong environmentalist, I say trees can solve many of the world's sustainability challenges. Forestry is the most sustainable of all the primary industries that provide us with energy and materials. Rather than cutting fewer trees and using less wood, DiCaprio and Berman ought to promote the growth of more trees and the use of more wood.
Sounds like the recent study published a few weeks ago in the journal Science which advocated the continued use of fossil fuels AND reforestation rather than the creation of biofuels such as ethanol, wouldn't you agree?
In fact, all this talk about reducing carbon dioxide emissions has always seemed absurd given how essential this naturally-occurring gas is to life on this planet.
Moore clearly agrees:
Trees are the most powerful concentrators of carbon on Earth. Through photosynthesis, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their wood, which is nearly 50 per cent carbon by weight. Trees contain about 250 kilograms of carbon per cubic metre.
The relationship between trees and greenhouse gases is simple enough on the surface. Trees grow by taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, through photosynthesis, converting it into sugars. The sugars are then used as energy and materials to build cellulose and lignin, the main constituents of wood.
There is a misconception that cutting down an old tree will result in a net release of carbon. Yet wooden furniture made in the Elizabethan era still holds the carbon fixed hundreds of years ago.
Interesting point. Yet, maybe more astounding coming from an environmentalist, Moore stated that good forest management - i.e. the cutting down of old trees and replacement with new ones - is highly beneficial:
Berman, a veteran of the forestry protest movement, should by now have learned that young forests outperform old growth in carbon sequestration.
Although old trees contain huge amounts of carbon, their rate of sequestration has slowed to a near halt. A young tree, although it contains little fixed carbon, pulls CO2 from the atmosphere at a much faster rate.
This is critical, for many governments are talking about spending vast amounts of money on carbon sequestration technology to do what conceivably can be done with good forest management and reforestation at a fraction of the price.
And, as you might imagine, such forest management has another benefit:
When a tree rots or burns, the carbon contained in the wood is released back to the atmosphere. Since combustion releases carbon, active forest management -- such as removing dead trees and clearing debris from the forest floor -- will be imperative in reducing the number and intensity of fires.
Of course, many in the timber industry have made similar assertions in the past only to be shot down by environmentalists who claim to know better. This makes Moore's article even more fascinating as he concluded:
To address climate change, we must use more wood, not less. Using wood sends a signal to the marketplace to grow more trees and to produce more wood. That means we can then use less concrete, steel and plastic -- heavy carbon emitters through their production. Trees are the only abundant, biodegradable and renewable global resource.
DiCaprio's movie, The 11th Hour, is another example of anti-forestry scare tactics, this time said to be "brilliant and terrifying" by James Christopher of the London Times.
Maybe so, but instead of surrendering to the terror, keep in mind that there are solutions to the challenges of climate, and our forests are among them.
This film should be a good, clear reminder for us to put the science before the Hollywood hype.