Carbon credit accounting

Science is beginning to confirm what many of us have long suspected: that older forests are better at sequestering carbon than younger ones, contrary to what some foresters would have us believe. My father has been wondering lately whether our own few hundred acres of forest are enough to offset the carbon we produce as a family. If you know my dad, you won’t be surprised to hear he’s got it all more or less figured out.

We are coming under intense pressure here in the Appalachians to clear every ridgetop forest for wind turbines, but I suspect that we can make the biggest difference simply by leaving the forests the hell alone. Certainly the best thing we could do for the forests themselves would be to end all extractive uses and employ foresters and loggers to conduct taxonomic surveys and ecological monitoring instead. Considering how much we still don’t know about Appalachian biodiversity, and how much we stand to lose as a result of global climate change, those are the kind of “green jobs” most desperately needed right now.

8 Comments


  1. oh well said, one of the remote Scottish Islands, all covered in peat bog has been threatened with an industrial sized wind farm. Thankfully this was recently rejected but there will no doubt be an appeal from the corporate world.

    You’re right – let’s leave the forests and bogs alone, let’s find out all we can about them, let’s celebrate them and let’s learn how to conserve energy and consume less…

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  2. Well said. Let’s leave the forests the hell alone. Our young longleaf pines, planted to replace old ones lost in Hurricane Ivan (2004) are higher than my head now. Beautiful. All the land around us has gone to developers, and the county has announced it wants to create an east-west highway through our land. It’s a pristine hundred-acre wood, and they can damn well find a way around it.

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  3. CGP – Yes, I’ve heard about the fight y’all are having with the propeller fetishists in Scotland. I guess no one in the indsustrialized world want to hear that they simply have save more and consume less. We’re not ready for the party to be over yet, because we know we’re going to have the mother of all hangovers.

    Elizabeth – Hey, great to see you around again! I’m sorry to hear they’ve got you surrounded now, though. Won’t the housing bust at least give you a respite? As for the county, you could offer to sell them carbon credits from your unfragmented forest to offset the pollution from that highway, if they build it.

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  4. Hmmmmm, remind me to explain “Derivatives” to your Dad. Arbitrage could provide a very nice cash flow on his mod.

    Oh wait. Sorry, bad habit given my current profession.

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  5. Arbitrage could provide a very nice cash flow on his mod.
    And some people say my poetry isn’t clear!

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  6. Maybe an Appalachian conservation group can start selling “forest credits” and use the income to incrementally buy up more ridge land. I’d rather support land purchases than more bat-killing wind farms.

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