Saturday, October 05, 2013

Russian carbon sequestration: bigger picture needed?

Writing for the green website Grist, John Upton quotes Russian research released in August that claims abandoned farmland there has taken up large amounts of CO2 since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Reporting on the same, New Scientist says this equates to 10 per cent of Russia's carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels (although the study's abstract says "... ~10% of the annual C sink in all Russian forests", so not having access to the full text I don't know whether the NS has misread).

However it seems to me that there is a limit to how much the wild vegetation will absorb, as it will reach maturity (presumably in the form of reforestation).

Also, even though many Russians have given up farming, they haven't stopped eating. So someone somewhere else is farming for them, and if that's in foreign countries there is an energy and emission implication in getting the food to market. So per capita, I suspect CO2 emissions relating to food have increased.

To some extent there may be some offsetting for demographic change - the Russian population shrank in the post-collapse years - but the population has begun to grow again.

I'd think it's more important to look at Russian industry and the extent to which emission reductions have been achieved because of more efficient plant, as opposed to being caused by the loss of productive capacity to (for example) coal-burning China.

If you're a global warmist, can we have a global picture, please?

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