Georgia Tech: “50 percent of the [USA] warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes rather than greenhouse gases”

https://i0.wp.com/lcluc.umd.edu/images/Science_Themes/DBrown1.jpgCounty-level land-use changes from 1950 to 2000, based on censuses of population, housing, and agriculture. A) change in population density; B) change in land area settled at “exurban densities” (i.e., 1 house per 1 to 40 acres); C) change in percent cropland (Brown et al. 2005).

 

From a Georgia Tech Press Release:

Reducing Greenhouse Gases May Not Be Enough to Slow Climate Change

Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning Professor Brian Stone publishes a paper in the December edition of Environmental Science and Technology that suggests policymakers need to address the influence of global deforestation and urbanization on climate change, in addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Stone’s paper, as the international community meets in Copenhagen in December to develop a new framework for responding to climate change, policymakers need to give serious consideration to broadening the range of management strategies beyond greenhouse gas reductions alone.

“Across the U.S. as a whole, approximately 50 percent of the warming that has occurred since 1950 is due to land use changes (usually in the form of clearing forest for crops or cities) rather than to the emission of greenhouse gases,” said Stone.  “Most large U.S. cities, including Atlanta, are warming at more than twice the rate of the planet as a whole – a rate that is mostly attributable to land use change.  As a result, emissions reduction programs – like the cap and trade program under consideration by the U.S. Congress – may not sufficiently slow climate change in large cities where most people live and where land use change is the dominant driver of warming.”

According to Stone’s research, slowing the rate of forest loss around the world, and regenerating forests where lost, could significantly slow the pace of global warming.