Western Exposure

How Canada vastly underestimates its carbon footprint… it has to do with the pine beetle

By September 25, 2009March 19th, 2015No Comments

Thank goodness for non-profit journalism again. On the web page of The Tyee is an opinion piece by a Canadian environmentalist with some astounding news about how Canada severely undercounts its contribution to global warming.

The column by Sierra Club campaigner Jens Wieting finds that a huge chunk of the Great White North’s greenhouse gas production is not counted and is acknowledged in what amounts to a footnote: the carbon dioxide coming out of Canadian forests because of logging and slash burning.

Wieting closely examines a report catalouging British Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions, although he says the same approach is used at the national level:

According to the report, total greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia in 2007 were 67 megatonnes. These mainly originate from the use of fossil fuels (80 per cent) as well as waste (six per cent), agriculture (four per cent) and deforestation (five per cent). So far, all correct. But it’s the innocuous-sounding item “emissions from forest land remaining forest land” that hides the real bomb: a whopping 51 megatonnes of CO2. This figure appears only as a “memo item” in the report and is not counted as part of B.C.’s total emissions. B.C.’s carbon emissions would be 77 per cent higher if emissions from forests were included.

Normally forests are carbon sinks, places that suck up carbon dioxide. It turns out that emissions from forests are outpacing the uptake because the pine beetle infestation left the forests in such tatters.

Tyee, btw, is a localism for the king salmon. The newsite’s motto: “A Feisty One!” And so it is.

— Robert McClure

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