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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Tree Pollution

New Scientist.com:

Industry has dramatically cut its emissions of pollutants, called volatile organic compounds. But those cuts have been more than offset by the amount of VOCs churned out by trees. The revelation challenges the notion that planting trees is a good way to clean up the atmosphere. When fossil fuels used in industry and automobiles fail to combust completely, they generate VOCs, which react with nitrogen oxides and sunlight to form poisonous ozone in the lower atmosphere. In the past few decades, the introduction of more efficient engines and catalytic converters has dramatically reduced these emissions. But trees also produce VOCs, which tend to be ignored by scientists modelling the effects of ozone on pollution. So a team led by Drew Purves at Princeton University investigated the impact of newly planted forests on VOC levels in the US.
Interesting. One of my big complaints with the modern environmental movement is that it has become a religion. A major tenant of that religion is: What is natural is good. Certainly I can see the attractiveness of this argument, but that doesn't make it any less fallacious. Obviously not everything that is natural is good for US (volcanos and hurricanes are natural, as is ebola). Taking a slightly larger viewpoint, that Good and Evil should be judged from an intrinsic, rather than a humancentric viewpoint has more logical merit, but by it's very nature this argument is in the realm of religion, rather than science.


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