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Tree Roundup

May 2, 2008

Planting fast-growing trees in southern latitudes could help stall global warming, but they’re no panacea.


Cooling with trees. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Establishing forests, especially in the southern latitudes, is one way to lower the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Researchers in the Netherlands found that ideally, forests could trap more than 50% of the carbon produced by industry. However, the authors caution it would take decades for the forests to grow enough to provide much of this benefit, and practical concerns would prevent the creation of most of these plantations. Still, they say trees planted in the south, where they grow the fastest, could be one effective means to slow climate change over the next hundred years.
In other tree news, researchers in Sweden have found what they claim is the world’s oldest living tree, a spruce that dates back over 9500 years. The previous record holder, a bristlecone pine tree in the U.S., is just half as old. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.