Petrarca, a prolific writer and poet, has been called the first modern man – and also the first tourist (aside from “the father of humanism”; folks, we landed in the right circles here!) In 1336 he climbed Mont Ventoux, 1 912 m a s l, for recreation! Nature to him was not an obstacle or a resource to be exploited, but something to be enjoyed. However, the experience seems to have inspired him to seek deeper into his own soul, not into the essence of Nature.
A competitor for the title is Michel de Montaigne, active 200 years later in the Bordeaux area in southern France. He is famous for a collection of short pieces, Essaies, where he really tells about himself, his thoughts and feelings, without mentioning Nature. But I think we have a right to assume that he was inspired and encouraged by it – he spent much of his time retired to his family estate, with apparently daily excursions on horseback (until he fell off one day, but that is another story).
31% of the globe’s land surface is forest. By 2015-16 the world’s forest area was estimated at close to 4 billion ha.
Increasing forest area through reforestation is an efficient way of absorbing back CO2 that has been released into the air.
It was some years ago that we were informed that unfortunately reforestation could not sequester enough carbon to match the release of CO2 from for example the coal burning into the atmosphere. The plantation area would have to be enormous, and there is simply not enough land to create plantations that could neutralise – and much less bring down – the CO2-growth.
Many forest plantations are established, that is a fact. China is an example of a country that has expanded its forest area. But globally the trend is negative – the forest area is shrinking. In a report called Living Forests WWF predicts that between now and 2030 another 170 million ha of forest may be lost unless firm measures are taken. This means two things:
on top of all other sources of CO2 release into the atmosphere, additional CO2 will be released when those forests are converted; and
the total area of forest land that can serve as a carbon sink and absorb CO2 will be reduced. So forests cannot be expected to change the trend of increased CO2 levels.
Now there is more news. A report in Science 28 Sept 2017 finds that the tropical forests, often referred to as the lungs of the earth, are by now a net contributor to CO2 emissions, due to clearing and conversion to other land uses.
From that follows necessarily that since absorption by forests cannot be increased, then emission will have to decrease to keep us below the temperature rise of 2 degrees as stipulated in the 2016 Paris agreement. This will require inventiveness!!! We are not expecting people to assume an ascetic life style. And while we are talking the world population keeps on growing, with raising expectations. How to do more with less?
In my very first post of this blog I write about the interaction between Society and Nature. I have asked What is nature, and tried to give some answers. To me, a simple answer looks like this.
It should not really be necessary to explain further. But as I dig on, there is more and more to say. Is there any genuine Nature left on Earth, and if so: where is that Nature? I am asking after reading https://www.ecowatch.com/plastic-debris-arctic-2489423193.html from EcoWatch on 25 Sept 2017.
“Plastic Debris Found on one of the World’s most Inaccessible Places.” Researchers have reached a spot about 1600 km from the North Pole, and found blocks of Styrofoam on top of the ice. The article also repeats what has been indicated earlier and begins to read like a curse: These non-biodegradable items can break down into tiny pieces or microplastics and can get ingested by marine animals and enter the larger food chain. – Meaning: those microplastics will spread all over. So, where do we go to find Nature?