Forests in the US will stop absorbing carbon within 50 years, USDA report warns

The carbon-absorbing powers of our forests will soon be overwhelmed, a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says. The report claims that forests will stop absorbing carbon by 2070, at which point they will turn into natural carbon emitters instead.

This huge change comes from massive overhauls to our forests, which have seen insane levels of downsizing due to deforestation and other natural issues like forest fires. As the forests continue to dwindle and age, their ability to soak up excess carbon in the atmosphere is dwindling, too. And as they become less absorbent, scientists say they may actually end up contributing to the ongoing carbon crisis instead.

So how can we stop this crisis from continuing the way it is? According to some, the only option may be a more aggressive approach to how we manage our forests around the world. This could mean making sure we’re regrowing cut-down trees or trees lost to age, as well as those lost to natural disasters like wildfires.

Shafts of morning sunlight lighting a forest pathImage source: Joe Gough / Adobe

Hurricanes and tornadoes are also to blame for the troubles we’re seeing with our forests, as they are becoming more frequent and more potent as the climate crisis continues to grow worse. What’s even more trouble is that the current rate of carbon consumption from U.S. forests could nosedive as early as 2025. That’s just two years from now. And in 50 years, our forests could stop absorbing carbon altogether.

Currently, it’s estimated that forests account for almost 40 coal power plants worth of carbon. If that nosedives in 2025, though, the climate crisis could grow much worse over the coming years as global temperatures continue to rise, thus leading to more natural disasters and, of course, rising sea levels.

The hope is that better control of our forests, as well as more climate change mitigation efforts, could help cut down on this possibility.

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