Forests cover around 30 % of the Earth’s surface, are home to millions of species, capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2), influence the local climate and provide us with water. This month, Horizon examines how the health of the world’s forests impacts on climate change. We explore the link between deforestation, forest degradation and CO2 emissions, examine the push to combine farming and forestry for better land management, and find out how scientists are using tree rings and DNA to combat illegal logging.
While it seems common sense that planting more trees should help remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and thereby cool the planet, Europe's forest management strategies have actually not helped to fight climate change, according to Professor Sebastiaan Luyssaert, from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Climate change is threatening Europe’s coffee supplies, but the impacts could be diluted by planting the crops amongst trees - a technique known as agroforestry, which is also being revived in European farming.
When it comes to climate change, it is often said that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. This month, with the COP24 UN climate change conference taking place in Katowice, Poland, Horizon looks north to the region of the world that is feeling the effects of global warming most acutely. We speak to Marianne Kroglund from the Arctic Council about whether it is too late to save the fragile ecosystems there and examine how studies of ice melt show that the world may still have a fighting chance of limiting sea level rise. We find out how the Arctic environment could be protected in the face of increased maritime traffic and look at the effect of melting permafrost – soil, sediment or rock that’s been frozen for at least two years – on the environment and local communities.
In its landmark report in October, the UN's International Panel on Climate Change said that every package of measures we choose to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C must include a way of removing carbon dioxide emissions from the air and reusing or storing them. This month, Horizon looks at what's being done to advance these carbon capture, storage and utilisation technologies. We talk to one expert who is trying to trap emissions from the cement industry before they are released, and find out how International Space Station technology is inspiring the capture of ambient carbon dioxide. We also investigate how captured CO2 can be reused, and examine just how safe it is to store the gas underground.
Governments at the COP24 climate change conference in Katowice, Poland, which ends on 14 December, should tackle fossil-fuel reliance by building a global energy grid that connects renewable energy from all around the world - and the best place to start is with a giant wind farm in Greenland, says Professor Damien Ernst, an energy scientist from the University of Liège, Belgium.
Studies of ice melt in the Arctic suggest that the world may have a fighting chance of preventing huge sea level changes that would result from the dramatic collapse of the vast ice sheets that cover Greenland, but that more work is needed to understand the wider effects.
Award-winning energy scientist says we need to change tack.
Study shows that melt is independent from Arctic sea ice loss.
With environmental changes locked in for several decades, are we too late to save the Arctic?