Don’t bank on trees to rescue climate
Recent news has been dominated by the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Rising temperatures are a serious threat. The reality is recognized. Drastic action is needed.
The major cause is increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. It results from the recent human activity of burning fossil fuels in the form of coal and oil and natural gas. More than half of the CO2 produced since the start of the Industrial Revolution remains in the atmosphere.
An increase from 310 ppm in 1959 to the present 415 ppm has been recorded on a volcano top in Hawaii. It is called the world’s most important graph. It was initiated by geologist Charles Keeling. It also shows a yearly sinusoidal variation due to seasonal growth and decay of vegetation.
A much-touted method for reversing atmospheric CO2 is to plant trees. This helps initially.
During the growing process the leaves extract CO2 from the air by solar activated photosynthesis.
The resulting wood of a tree is 50% carbon. However, when any vegetation dies or burns, most of the carbon returns to the atmosphere as CO2.
While trees can improve quality of life, they are ultimately carbon neutral. Any near-term benefit becomes a future liability.
Energy from solar and wind energy are positive alternatives.
Electricity-produced can power vehicles, heating, cooling and most other needs. Thus, valuable and limited land may be better used for solar panels and wind turbines rather than trees.
The writer is an emeritus engineering professor at Union College.
Beware lame-duck board in Niskayuna
Congratulations to our newly elected town officials, Jaime Puccioni, Jessica Brennan and Jason Moskowitz. Niskayuna residents clearly voted for change.
We have grown weary of the chaos, conflict and lack of transparency that is the signature of the current town board.
While positive change is coming with the newly elected members, we should be concerned with the actions of the now, lame-duck board.
This board continues to operate with complete lack of transparency. At the Nov. 4 special town board meeting, residents rang alarm bells regarding the town’s 2022 budget.
Unlike other local municipalities, the town board will not be using one-time federal ARPA monies to lower our taxes or replenish, hard-hit reserves.
In fact, they are not providing any information about how the federal funds (over $1 million) will be spent.
Additionally, this lame-duck board is thwarting the traditional six-month probationary period for high-level appointed officials. On the agenda for the next town board meeting on Nov. 18 is a resolution appointing a permanent police chief.
This permanent appointment is being made well before the six-month probationary period has run. When and at what meeting was this decision made to eliminate the traditional probationary period? This issue was not discussed at any Public Safety Committee meeting.
What else might this lame-duck board attempt to do on their way out? The voters have spoken.
Let us not allow these welcome departures to cast shadows that will remain any longer than is required.
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