Show Details

Trees vs. Climate Change

November 20, 2015

Are coniferous or deciduous trees best at sucking up CO2?


Black spruce Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pub domain

Black spruce in the Arctic. (Steve Hillebrand/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)


What trees fight climate change best? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Evergreen trees photosynthesize all year, while deciduous trees like maples and oaks lose their leaves and rest over the winter. Science Update listener Michael Harrington in the UK wonders if that means evergreens absorb more CO2, a biologist at The University of the South in Tennessee and author of The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature.

DAVID HASKELL (The University of The South):

As with many things, there is not one answer to that question. And the fact that there is no one answer explains why there’s so much tree diversity in the world.


He says even though deciduous trees rest for the winter, they outperform evergreens when spring comes. But under some soil and temperature conditions evergreens win. If you’ve got a science question, call us at 1-800-WHY-ISIT, or email us from our website, I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.