Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

This is a blog devoted to Giant Panda enthusiasts, environmental wanna-bes and peace loving funimals, world-wide.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I am Anti-Wildfire!

Do wildfires emit greenhouse gases? You bet they do - and how.

According to the American Forest Resource Council, on average, one acre of burned land emits six tons of CO2 and other GHGs. Depending on the fire's severity and the type of brush, up to 100 tons of CO2 can be released into the atmosphere. This figure does not include emissions from fire suppressants. Somewhere in the area of 400,000 acres of California land have burned so far. That equals 2,400,000 TONS of GHGs emitted into the atmosphere in just the last 7 days.

I wondered how this figure compared to CO2 emissions from vehicles. According to the EPA, on their subversively complicated "Emission Facts: GHG Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle" page:

127,721,000 is the number of cars on the road in the United States.
73,775,000 is the number of light trucks on the road in the United States.

This is a total of 201,496,000 cars and light trucks in the US. Multiplying that by 5.2 metric tons (the average used by the EPA of one vehicle's annual CO2 emissions) =

1,047,779,200 metric tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere by cars and light trucks in the United States annually.

So, it does appear to me that wildfires are a significant source of CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases and the AFMC and tap-happy Senator Craig would agree on the specific point that forest fire management policy changes are necessary to any meaningful climate change policy. This is a pretty new concept to me because I never read about forest fire management as an important facet of global climate change policy. Even so, the fact that wildfires emit CO2 is hardly an excuse to not bother reducing our own CO2 emissions as Senator Craig has obliquely suggested. It's everyone's problem Senator, not just the trees'.

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