2024年1月18日 星期四

Climate Study Shows Restoration of Forests Isn’t Enough by Itself 森林對於因應氣候變遷很有幫助 但還不夠

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2024/01/19 第468期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Climate Study Shows Restoration of Forests Isn't Enough by Itself 森林對於因應氣候變遷很有幫助 但還不夠
Torrential Rain and Floods Wreak Havoc Across East Africa 暴雨和洪水嚴重毀損東非
Climate Study Shows Restoration of Forests Isn't Enough by Itself 森林對於因應氣候變遷很有幫助 但還不夠
文/Catrin Einhorn

森林對於因應氣候變遷很有幫助 但還不夠

Restoring global forests where they occur naturally could potentially capture an additional 226 gigatons of planet-warming carbon, equivalent to about one-third of the amount that humans have released since the beginning of the Industrial Era, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.


The research, with input from more than 200 authors, leveraged vast troves of data collected by satellites and on the ground and was partly an effort to address the controversy surrounding an earlier paper. That study, in 2019, helped to spur the Trillion Trees movement but also caused a scientific uproar.


The new conclusions were similar to those in a separate study published last year. Mainly, the extra storage capacity would come from allowing existing forests to recover to maturity.


The 226 gigatons of storage cannot be achieved without cutting greenhouse gas emissions, said Thomas Crowther, the study's senior author and a professor of ecology at ETH Zurich, a university in Switzerland. "If we continue emitting carbon, as we've done to date, then droughts and fires and other extreme events will continue to threaten the scale of the global forest system, further limiting its potential to contribute."


Forests are essential to tackling both the climate and biodiversity crises. And they pull climate-warming carbon out of the atmosphere.


Crowther was the senior author of a polarizing study on forest carbon in 2019 that drew scientific backlash but also inspired an effort by the World Economic Forum to grow and conserve 1 trillion trees.


In 2019, he acknowledged, careless language led to trees being wrongly painted as a silver bullet for climate change. Now, his biggest fear is that countries and companies will keep treating forests that way, using them for carbon offsets to enable the continued use of fossil fuels.


His new study's number of 226 gigatons of carbon approximates his previous one of 205, but it gets there differently. Both papers exclude urban areas, croplands and pastures but include rangelands, where animals may graze at lower densities. In the new research, 61% of the additional carbon storage would come from protecting existing forests and the other 39% from growing trees in deforested areas with low human footprints.


In the 2019 study, all the carbon came from growing trees where they could occur naturally outside of existing forests. More than 50 scientists published seven critiques in Science that year, disputing both the analysis and its implications.


Torrential Rain and Floods Wreak Havoc Across East Africa 暴雨和洪水嚴重毀損東非
文/ Abdi Latif Dahir


Heavy rains and floods have killed scores of people and displaced hundreds of thousands of others across eastern Africa in recent weeks, governments and the United Nations said, underscoring the intensifying climatic hazards in a politically and economically tumultuous region.


At least 179 people have been killed in countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, according to the U.N. and government agencies, and some regional authorities believe the figures are most likely higher.


The torrential rains, which have devastated other nations including Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda, have affected more than 3 million people in a region that was already reeling from its worst drought in four decades.


Since 2020, the drought conditions, aggravated by climate change, have decimated crops and livestock and left millions of people hungry and malnourished, and hundreds of children dead.


The United Nations has attributed the heavier-than-usual rains to two climatic events: the El Nino phenomenon, which originates in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and whose conditions release additional heat into the atmosphere, and a similar phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole.


The floods have damaged homes, bridges and schools, according to aid agencies, who have warned of an uptick in disease outbreaks, including cholera and malaria.


In Somalia, where the floods have affected 1.7 million people, the government declared a state of emergency in October. The U.N. said the country was facing "once-in-a-century flooding."


The floods have so far killed at least 96 people in the country, according to Farhan Jimale, the government spokesperson.


In Kenya, the heavy downpours have killed more than 60 people, according to the U.N. Thousands of people have been displaced in towns and cities across the west and the northeast, too, while entire neighborhoods were submerged in the coastal county of Mombasa this month, according to the Kenya Red Cross.


Similar devastation has unfolded in neighboring countries including Ethiopia, where the pummeling rain has submerged large portions of land in several regions underwater, according to the U.N.


Thousands of homes have flooded across Sudan in recent weeks, even as millions flee a seven-month civil war. The rising waters have displaced thousands more in parts of South Sudan, a landlocked nation already burdened by years of violence and malnutrition.


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