LETTER: Carbon dioxide emissions could be greatly reduced via proposals such as Wild Olympics

The need to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is receiving increased attention as a strategy to combat global warming.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is so high that it is causing significant damage and it will remain high for thousands of years.

Reducing emissions to the atmosphere is important but will not solve the problem of the existing concentration.

I believe the only method that is effective and known to result in significant negative emissions is by photosynthesis that occurs — especially in forest ecosystems like those on the Olympic Peninsula.

This process occurs over many years as the forest grows.

Contrary to the claim of the April 21 letter writer [“Tree proposal”], this process is not only stopped when the forest is clearcut, it is reversed (aerobic decomposition).

The net result of current clearcutting forest-management practices is that there is no significant change in the carbon concentration in the atmosphere because the amount sequestered during tree growth is released after the trees are harvested.

What will work is protecting forest land from clearcutting with forest proposals like Wild Olympics.

Not only will the protected forest gain from attractiveness and protection from adverse impact of global warming, it can potentially provide an important annual economic income by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

Based on the method in my April 9 letter, “Kitchel’s failure,” and including the area of Olympic National Park, the estimated value would be $132 million a year.

The challenge now is to make the public and their representatives aware of this approach to forest management and its importance to all of us now and in the foreseeable future.

Jerry Estberg,

Port Angeles

EDITOR’S NOTE: Estberg is a professor emeritus in physics at the University of San Diego.