It has been acknowledged that climate change is one of the major challenges humanity faces, which has led to certain changes in people’s attitudes towards the issue. At present, individuals, institutions, and countries develop numerous approaches and strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of the human society on the environment. These efforts are referred to as geoengineering or climate engineering that is defined as “direct, large-scale actions for altering temperature” (Cusack et al. 280). Abatement is often regarded as the only possible action to undertake to address the problem, but other options exist. This paper deals with forest management as one of the most appropriate geoengineering strategies.
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Forest management has been chosen as the method with the most far-reaching effects that can be instrumental in addressing various environmental and socioeconomic aspects. This approach involves the reduction of deforestation and the promotion of global forest growth (Cusack et al. 281). It has been estimated that this effort can sequester approximately “1.3 GT C yr–1 in biomass” while deforestation contributes to “>1 GT C yr–1 to the atmosphere” (Cusack et al. 281). The strategy can help in managing biodiversity and returning to the outlook of the planet that existed before the Industrialization Age. People’s fears regarding the negative impact of climate engineering on the global economy will be addressed as recent technology makes further development of farming, infrastructure construction, and other spheres of human activity possible without major deforestation.
Forest management, similar to any other geoengineering approach has certain strengths and weaknesses. One of its strengths is the comparatively high technical potential of this method (Cusack et al. 281). The control or almost complete termination of deforestation and reforestation are technically possible although some obstacles still exist. These challenges will mainly occur in developing countries that have limited resources and where people’s economic wellbeing depends on the use of natural resources. Farming, as well as the construction of infrastructure and dwellings, need space, but the development of technology is already providing solutions. Effective farming strategies, new materials, and new transportation methods and routes are leading to the reduction of deforestation.
The cost-effectiveness of the method is another advantage of forest management. Despite the fact that exact costs can be hard to identify, it has been estimated that forest management is one of the most cost-effective approaches as compared to abatement or ocean fertilization (Cusack et al. 283). Institutional aspects related to the implementation of policies aimed at forest management are associated with some positive and negative outcomes. The positive side of the institutional capacity of this approach is the relative easiness of its implementation at global and local levels. Countries and international institutions have already developed some incentives ensuring proper forest management.
Nevertheless, the negative aspect related to institutional capacity is the need for continuous control over the implementation of the introduced initiatives. Ecological risks (which are comparatively low) can be seen as a weakness rather than the strength of forest management. On the one hand, reforestation will lead to the improvement of biodiversity. On the other hand, it may lead to weather changes and extensive use of water in some regions. Cusack et al. also add that this type of geoengineering can contribute to warming due to the darkening of the surface in some areas (283). Therefore, these areas require further discussion in order to ensure the implementation of this approach.
In conclusion, forest management is one of the most cost-effective climate engineering strategies. Although it is associated with some challenges and risks, they are minimal and can be addressed effectively. Importantly people tend to accept this approach positively, which is important for its use in the future. Hence, it is necessary to concentrate on this type of geoengineering while still using other strategies as well.
Cusack, Daniela F., et al. “An Interdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering Strategies”. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, vol. 12, no. 5, 2014, pp. 280-287.
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