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Logging is the Lead Driver of Carbon Emissions From US Forests

Logging is the Lead Driver of Carbon Emissions From US Forests

Clearcut, Oregon Coast Range. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Climate change is having a growing impact on Americans and, as the crisis escalates, communities face growing challenges. The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underscores that we have eleven short years to make “rapid transformation across all industrial sectors.”

Protecting forest ecosystems is critical in the fight to limit global warming — when forests are disturbed they release carbon, but when left to grow they actively pull carbon out of the air and store it. When left standing, forests also provide optimal natural protection against extreme weather events, like flooding and droughts.

As the Trump Administration and industry allies push for increased commercial logging of America’s forests, we feel compelled to call attention to the elephant in the room: the profound ways in which industrial logging not only decimates ecosystems but also exacerbates climate change.

Many people are aware of the importance of protecting rainforests in Brazil to help mitigate climate change, but few realize that more logging occurs in the US, and more wood is consumed here, than in any other nation globally. The rate and scale of logging in the Southeastern US alone is four times that in South American rainforests.

The Trump Administration and industry have been aggressively promoting misinformation about forests and wildland fires, while advocating for large increases in logging under the guises of “forest health,” “fuel reduction,” “renewable energy,” and reducing carbon emissions. A version of this industry narrative was on display during the recent climate change hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee.

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