By now the lesson is clear: Burning coal and petroleum produces carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that contributes to the warming of our globe. That alone is enough reason to believe fossil fuels are not a sustainable basis for society long-term.
Forest preservation is essential to combating climate change. Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide, storing it in their wood. Forest destruction is responsible for about 20% of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions into the Earth's atmosphere.
Some of the most distinguished scientists in the US have written to UK energy secretary Ed Davey, urging him to abandon the government's "misguided" subsidies for companies burning wood pellets to generate electricity.
One of the key ways of mitigating climate change is to keep carbon away from the atmosphere where it is found as carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas. Carbon that is stored in trees and other woody plants, in soils, and in the oceans is said to be sequestered.
Many people have adopted a philosophy of buying local food because they are concerned about the carbon footprint of transporting food long distances. People are rebelling against tomatoes from South America and garlic from China, because they can reduce greenhouse emissions by buying locally. Some people even start their own gardens for this reason.
In an attempt to wean the nation from coal—an unhealthy source of energy that drives global warming, several policy groups have suggested switching to wood. Existing coal-fired power plants could be converted to burn wood with relatively little cost and expense. And trees have the benefit of being a renewable resource.
In our quest for renewable energy, attention has shifted to our nation’s forests. Forest-based energy has the potential to be “carbon-neutral.” The carbon released into the atmosphere when trees are burned is taken back out of the atmosphere when new trees grow.
Thankfully, the argument about the reality of global climate change seems finished. The majority of the public now joins the consensus of climate scientists, who have furnished compelling proof that the planet is warming and that humans are at least partly to blame.