GLOBAL WARMING: ITS SCOPE AND CONSEQUENCES

Актуальные публикации по вопросам экологии и природопользования.

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Опубликовано в библиотеке: 2021-10-06
Источник: Science in Russia, №3, 2012, C.65-67

This is a hot and much debated issue. So many theories and opinions are aired to this effect. The crux of the controversy: who is the culprit responsible for global warming: Man or Mother Nature? Globalists are out to find a consensus. That was one of the subjects discussed at the International Conference held in September 2011 in Syktyvkar, Republic of Komi. This forum brought together more than 70 guests from Armenia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany and Russia. Its agenda: "Reservoirs and Carbon Dioxide Flows in Sylvan and Boggy Ecosystems of the Boreal Zone". Which in plain English means the presence of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the woodlands and bogs of the North and its ecological systems. Acad. Stanislav Vompersky, research head of the RAS Institute of Forestry, was chairman of the organizing committee of the forum. Svetlana Muravyova of the Nauka Urala (Science of the Urals) newspaper, has details.

 

That get-together generalized and evaluated data on the carbon dioxide cycle in the woodland and boggy ecosystems of the North and looked into the mechanisms regulating the implicated processes. According to Dr. Svetlana Zagirova, in charge of the department of forestry and biology problems of the North (Biology

 

Science in Russia, No.3, 2012

 
стр. 65

 

Institute of the Komi Research Center, RAS Ural Branch), carbon dioxide is more a political rather than a scientific issue today. The Kyoto Protocol and other documents say in so many words that a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes a hothouse effect, which in the long run may trigger a global warming process. The scale and consequences of ensuing changes in the atmosphere may be compared to great geologic and climatic cataclysms in global history. All that, in turn, would exacerbate conflicts in the economic, social and political spheres of many states, Russia including.

 

Boreal (northern) woodlands and woodlands at large occupy a greater part of dry land, and their role in regulating the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air is global indeed. Some foreign research scientists contend that Russia's forestlands discharge all too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and so we, Russians, have no right to sell our clean air quotas. But our homeland researchers are out to prove something else: woodlands consume carbon dioxide, and thus are making a signal contribution in cleansing the atmosphere of hothouse gases. These approaches, though poles apart, are not the only problem. Far from so.

 

In theory, Dr. Zagirova went on to say, such climate changes may take different forms. The mildest one, a half degree (Celsius) temperature rise in one hundred years with no change in the level of atmospheric precipitation. A worst-case scenario: a six degrees temperature rise that would entail irreversible consequences. Climatic changes may vary depending on a particular region.

 

An increase in the amount of precipitation at higher temperatures may be good for Komi and for boreal forests. But climate warming would be no good for southern Siberia, for the level of precipitation would be down to cause further degradation of the woods. In the foresttundra plains rising temperatures would cause a thawing of permanently frozen soil and a burst in the discharge of hothouse gases into the atmosphere.

 

The Syktyvkar forum outlined practical problem areas for obtaining more accurate forecasts and bringing down the number of uncertainties related to carbon dioxide.

 

Dr. Kapitolina Bobkova of the Komi Biology Institute (Komi Research Center) noted that boreal forests come first in sustaining the CO2 balance, for the reserves and deposition of carbon dioxide in them depend on the productivity and composition of forest stands. Yet due to the extensive use of forests in lumbering, their alienation for petroleum and coal mining, and frequent fires these forests are ruined, and their territory is contracting. There is no exact information to hand how much CO2 they use up each year. Some experts say it is 500 mln tons yearly for Russia, while others claim it is as much as 250 mln tons. Why such discrepancy? Because of different models of appraisal. The CO2 deposition is assessed at the level of ecosystems, regions and districts countrywise, hence different scenarios.

 

That was the subject of Dr. Vladimir Usoltsev's report (Botanical Gardens of the RAS Ural Branch). Russia signed the Kyoto Protocol later than other countries. Yet at the same time she abolished the system of woodland registration. So one is not in the know about particular

 
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treelands, how much and where they are found. Forests are ravaged by fires, and their trees are felled. Although some sylvan cultures are planted now and then, the ongoing changes are as good as not registered. The CO2 deposition potential is not known for certain either. While experts are close in their appraisal of the overall carbon dioxide pool, they differ on the amount of primary produce, with the difference margin as much as two- and threefold.

 

"Today nobody denies the ongoing cataclysms, but it has not been proved yet whether man is the culprit. More serious causes might be involved, possibly even of cosmic origin. We cannot tell what solar surprises are in store for our planet in the years to come because we cannot predict solar activity in practical terms," Dr. Usoltsev noted.

 

Dr. Dmitry Zamolodchikov (RAS Center of Forest Ecology and Productivity) summed up the main result of the conference: global warming is a real thing, and its negative consequences outweigh the positive ones. It may lead to tree withering and death, and cause more frequent natural fires. In turn, an additional emission of hothouse gases in forest fires may speed up global warming. What we need, he said, is an adequate scientific approach and adequate forecasts as a guide to practical activities in forest management.

 

S. Muravyova"Climate Warming:

 

Causes and Consequences", Nauka Urala

 

(Science of the Urals), No. 24, 2011


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