50% Of The Warming Caused By Land Use Changes?

So says a press release from the University Of Georgia

Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning Professor Brian Stone publishes a paper in the December edition of Environmental Science and Technology that suggests policymakers need to address the influence of global deforestation and urbanization on climate change, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Stone’s paper, as the international community meets in Copenhagen in December to develop a new framework for responding to climate change, policymakers need to give serious consideration to broadening the range of management strategies beyond greenhouse gas reductions alone.

Across the U.S. as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases,” said Stone. “Most large U.S. cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole – a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change. As a result, emissions reduction programs – like the cap and trade program under consideration by the U.S. Congress – may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live and where land use change is the dominant driver of warming.”

According to Stone’s research, slowing the rate of forest loss around the world, and regenerating forests where lost, could significantly slow the pace of global warming.

“Treaty negotiators should formally recognize land use change as a key driver of warming,” said Stone. “The role of land use in global warming is the most important climate-related story that has not been widely covered in the media.”

Stone recommends slowing what he terms the “green loss effect” through the planting of millions of trees in urbanized areas and through the protection and regeneration of global forests outside of urbanized regions. Forested areas provide the combined benefits of directly cooling the atmosphere and of absorbing greenhouse gases, leading to additional cooling. Green architecture in cities, including green roofs and more highly reflective construction materials, would further contribute to a slowing of warming rates. Stone envisions local and state governments taking the lead in addressing the land use drivers of climate change, while the federal government takes the lead in implementing carbon reduction initiatives, like cap and trade programs.

This is what is known as the Urban Island Effect. All the steel, glass, pavement, black roofs, etc, cause areas to heat up, either through trapping the heat, reflecting it within the area, or simply covering up the ground. Anyone who has ever worked on industrial roofs knows just how darned hot it can get up there. If you have ever done the tightrope walk on the crosswalk lines in your bare feet across a roadway at the beach in the summer, you know how hot the pavement can get. If you drive a little bit outside the city, it cools down. The glaciars on Kilamanjaro are not melting because of greenhouse gasses, but because of deforestation which changes the flow of air up the mountain.

This is something scientists have known about for a long time, so, it is nice to see it in print. Of course, I doubt if people are going to want to go back to living like it is 1599. I guess the science isn’t settled.

Meanwhile, Professor David Bellamy, an environmentalist and a skeptic, says that world will get cooler over the next 30 years.

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5 Responses to “50% Of The Warming Caused By Land Use Changes?”

  1. John Ryan says:

    Teach only 3% of the land in the USA is urban .http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/LandUse/readings.htm
    of course there is also the offset of people in urban areas using 15% less energy than non urbanites. Smaller homes,less commute, means less energy

  2. Otter says:

    johnny, you can reduce Your carbon footprint by moving back to your old cave.

  3. John Ryan says:

    Otter ever take any classes in Latin ? Ad hominem what does that mean to you ?
    Prof David Bellamy was educated to be a botanist not a climatologist. In 1989 he wrote the foreword to the book The Greenhouse Effect. Here is an excerpt:
    “The profligate demands of humankind are causing far reaching changes to the atmosphere of planet Earth, of this there is no doubt. Earth’s temperature is showing an upward swing, the so-called greenhouse effect, now a subject of international concern. The greenhouse effect may melt the glaciers and ice caps of the world causing the sea to rise and flood many of our great cities and much of our best farmland.
    Apparently Bellamy believed in AGW before he disbelieved in it.
    Teach around the 17th the NCDC will be publishing their data on the Global temps (as opposed to the national ones that you noted earlier this week) will you be posting these ?

  4. Otter says:

    Mr. Bellamy has apparently changed his mind, based upon 20 years of studying the evidence.

  5. Reasic says:

    What I found interesting was how Teach tied this land use study to the Urban Island Effect. The two are not synonymous.

    Also, there are many factors that are contributing to the decline in the glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Claiming that it’s only due to deforestation is just dumb, especially if your goal is to use this example to disprove the fact that the planet is warming. If this were the case, why are the vast majority of glaciers in the world also receding? Use your brain, Teach.

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