Severe weather, Michigan and elsewhere

A quick skim of google results runs counter to what I was thinking. Certain terrestrial environments are actually better at fixing CO2 than marine environments. As you state, old growth forests are at equilibrium. It appears savannas and rain forests are the top fixers.



C. S. Lewis said that very thing with regard to the death rate during a war. Someone had written an article lamenting the increased death rate, and Lewis responded with a letter noting that it was still one per person.

Luke 10:36-37.


I have no access to the data we had, unfortunately. The change was in and out of the error bars, so borderline significant. We judged that the burning of charcoal was the major factor, but deforesting most of a continent must have had an impact. The charcoal burning was really a prelude to the industrial revolution; as trees were less available and thus more expensive it made coal not just competitive but necessary.

We shook our heads at the common claim that Europe was deforested to provide farmland since the data showed that the more important a country’s navy, the faster the forests disappeared. Germany still had lots of ancient forest when Britain, France, and Spain were looking overseas for timber for their navies.

On the Pacific coast it takes anywhere from two hundred to eight hundred years for a forest to qualify as “old growth”, and those numbers rely on eliminating the monocultures of tree farms and planting a natural mix. There’s one company I’m aware of that provides lumber from trees at least eighty years old that has been buying up clearcut land and replanting the trees that would be found in a mature natural forest on most of it while allowing natural regrowth as after a forest fire on the rest. Whoever owns the company definitely has the long view because they don’t plan to cut anything on those lands for at least sixty years for some planned thinning and eighty years for actual lumber, but most is intended to be allowed to grow a century before touching it.

We had a chestnut tree on the property when I was growing up, though it definitely wasn’t an American chestnut since the nuts weren’t edible. Th trunk divided about six feet up, and after a particularly bad storm it split, leaving one trunk leaning steeply enough we had to cut it down. The other trunk lasted a few years before storm damage made it necessary to drop it as well. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen an American one, though I recall a fundraising drive one Christmas for a program attempting to breed resistant ones (they played Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire about once an hour).


I recall joking about how every ship sunk in the wars Britain, France, Spain, and others fought served to sequester different amounts of carbon depending on the type of ship. Obviously if Europe had replanted as fast as they cut a lot more would have been sequestered!

Depending on the forest type, the carbon-neutral stage can take centuries to reach. An old growth forest here needs a quarter century to reach maturity, but if the area at the start just had a typical thin soil layer it can take twice that to become carbon-neutral while the forest floor duff continues to build up – I’ve been in conifer forests where the duff was well over a foot thick before the bottom was decomposing as fast as the top accumulated more detritus; in fact out on the dunes where I do conservation work I’ve seen it over two feet deep due to dunes being well-drained.

Interestingly the forests on dunes where I do my work never reach old growth status: the recurring monster earthquakes in the Cascadia subduction zone topple the trees before the forest gets that old.

I recall from botany class that despite the massive amounts of agricultural growth in the Willamette Valley annually, the oak savanna that covered almost the entire valley before settlers came stored many, many times that amount of carbon annually, though the burns done by the natives – which was what kept it savanna – released quite a bit. Nevertheless a soil depth of over two meters wasn’t uncommon, all of it storing carbon in a subsurface ecosystem that retained it all there (methods of building soil to that depth are what will allow drawing down atmospheric carbon once we stop increasing that, in fact it is effective enough that if adding carbon ended today and all available farmland immediately began using those methods we could actually trigger an ice age – the potential is that great).


I have been to a few in the mountains, but the Carolinas only have old growth forest in

  1. areas of the mountains that are unreasonably steep for logging or farming. and
  2. swamplands that were part of rich families’ estates and never got logged.
    Otherwise, the oldest forests are all generaly 60-100 years old.

This (the Carolina piedmont) was ground zero for soil conservation efforts because of how bad the land conservation was before the 40’s. I’ve been told that it will probably take a few millennia to replenish the soil to precolonial levels in more forested areas…


Probably, if the land and forest are let to their own devices. One of the major forestry schools in the U.S. has done research on accelerating the restoration of forest soils; Oregon State University School of Forestry published recommendations for what to do after clear-cutting that relate to that, alternatives to piing up all the woody debris and burning it that include chipping one-third of the debris, burning one-third, and putting the rest into low piles which would provide cover for small wildlife as it decomposes. This mimics natural processes that contribute to the forest floor.

Of course that is in coniferous forests; deciduous forests are a whole different situation since leaf debris decomposes and/or is consumed fairly rapidly, such that leaves have mostly vanished by the next summer, whereas in coniferous forests needles can remain in the thick duff layers for many decades before significantly decomposing.

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At least in southern Europe, the destruction of forests was planned action by Rome. The tactics of the army were planned for open terrain, closed forests were a terrible environment where the legions were in great difficulties. Forests were one reason why Rome could not occupy the areas in Germania. Clearing the forests was a way to ensure the dominance of Roman legions.


That makes a lot of sense. I live one state to your east, so I have spent plenty of time in those very forests and am familiar with how those forests have been viewed over the last 100 years. It’s good to see institutions embracing a more environmental view of how forests work, such as embracing the importance of fire in these forests. This is one of the things that was drilled into us by our Ecology professor at university some 30 years ago, and why the Ponderosa pine is such an amazing tree.

There is also the issue of cheat grass, an exotic species brought over from the Mediterranean. It has reeked havoc in Western desert environments.


The first time I heard this, how interesting!
I did a quick search and even a Wikipedia page is devoted to this topic.


I don’t recall it being a planned policy so much as that wherever a legion camped for a time they didn’t just build their camp, they cleared everything anyone could hide behind out beyond the limit of bow range, which meant roughly half a kilometer in every direction. Near the borders the same was done around every walled town or village. I don’t know if it was regular practice, but I read of a legion that turned all the trees they removed into firewood they could use when they marched back.

And of course a legion needed firewood for cooking, which meant that around border camps the cleared area steadily got larger.


I find this statement overly broad:

Transportation was expensive, but increasing numbers of ships were needed to maintain naval dominance.

Once Rome made the Mediterranean their sea, that need declined – in fact once they’d conquered Greece and Egypt there weren’t really any other naval powers, and Augustus essentially wiped out pirates.


To a certain extent. There also were the border rivers and the North Sea:

During the Imperial period, the Mediterranean became largely a peaceful “Roman lake”. In the absence of a maritime enemy, the navy was reduced mostly to patrol, anti-piracy and transport duties. By far, the navy’s most vital task was to ensure Roman grain imports were shipped and delivered to the capital unimpeded across the Mediterranean. The navy also manned and maintained craft on major frontier rivers such as the Rhine and the Danube for supplying the army.

On the fringes of the Empire, in new conquests or, increasingly, in defense against barbarian invasions, the Roman fleets were still engaged in open warfare. The decline of the Empire in the 3rd century took a heavy toll on the navy, which was reduced to a shadow of its former self, both in size and in combat ability. As successive waves of the Völkerwanderung crashed on the land frontiers of the battered Empire, the navy could only play a secondary role. In the early 5th century, the Roman frontiers were breached, and barbarian kingdoms appeared on the shores of the western Mediterranean. One of them, the Vandal Kingdom with its capital at Carthage, raised a navy of its own and raided the shores of the Mediterranean, even sacking Rome, while the diminished Roman fleets were incapable of offering any resistance. The Western Roman Empire collapsed in the late 5th century. The navy of the surviving eastern Roman Empire is known as the Byzantine navy.

[Edit: forgot to add the link, Roman navy - Wikipedia]

And the navy was also used during the civil wars between rival emperors.

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I thought I would say a few words that your contribution is valued @adamjedgar. Here is my small attempt at some reconciliation.

It is painful to see some of the interactions on this thread. It seems to me that there is much common ground in our views that humans have caused damage to the environment, and that there is a need to reform our ways on how we interact with nature. Why not have a respectful discussion about the topic of the OP? There is much to discuss. @T_aquaticus has explained that views on YEC may play a role in the discussion, but it seems to me that this could be done in a respectful way.

If your purpose is to “fix” people, so that they agree with your theology in every respect, then I would suggest that that isn’t a good basis for respectful relationships. YEC seems to be a part of your identity. I respect that, and I will not try to “fix” you.

Maybe we are living inside a simulation (like the film The Matrix), running on God’s laptop, where He changed the parameters of physics during the simulation to fool us that the universe is ancient. I don’t choose to believe that God is a deceiver like that. I am a Christian, who accepts the overwhelming evidence that the created universe is ancient, and that the scientific theory of evolution is by far the best explanation of life as we see it. Many of us have decided that these views are compatible with the core doctrines of the Christian faith. You apparently cannot reconcile them with your theological views. We will have to agree to disagree on this. If you challenge specific points of science or theology, you can expect counter-arguments.

As an aside, I don’t know what a “TE-ist” is. I find that some of my worldviews are very different from other people that accept ToE. I respect that. There are also atheists here who are truthful about who they are, and intellectually honest. I respect them. In fact, I am continually learning to embrace diversity. I have much work still to do.

Grace and Peace.


If all I accomplish is to make people realize that not all atheists are Richard Dawkins clones, then my time will have been well spent. :wink:

On the subject of climate change, there is a lot of common ground between theists and atheists, and even between TE/EC and YEC. If I am not mistaken, @adamjedgar lives in Australia where there isn’t the same mix of science and politics that we see in the US. We Americans tend to forget that the political conservatives in other countries have no problem accepting human caused climate change.

Those who want to lessen our impact on the environment are a diverse bunch, and we should welcome all of them.


You are far more valued here than just that! But interestingly, even Dawkins seems to have mellowed, calling himself a “cultural Christian.” Of course, here in the US, being a cultural Christian may not be a desirable label, but as that lapses into politics will leave that be.
I don’t know if any here are Big Bang Theory or Young Shelton fans, but the ending of Young Shelton has brought up discussion of how the Faith /Science debate has changed over the years, using Shelton and his mother as sort of metaphors for the societal debate. And interestingly, Shelton seems to have mellowed in his approach a bit. I think the final episode in the series is tonight. I sort of drifted away from watching regularly the last couple of seasons, but sad to see it go, as it did bring up thoughtful issues, including the flaws and failures of us all, but also the underlying goodness despite those failings.


Everyone in the West is a “cultural Christian”. Even those who attack Christianity do so on the basis of Christian morals.


When I was about 12, an older, Mennonite Canadian whose family fled the Stalin induced famines in Ukraine taught me chess. At the same time, he told about how fertile Ukraine’s fields were–often 6 feet of very black, fertile soil. The landscape was, I think, younger in Canada, where he said it was maybe 20 inches (but still very fertile). I had no idea of the function of grassland in the carbon cycle. We lived in the Sahel (shortgrass savannah) in Africa, where my parents were missionaries. The termites seemed to eat all the organic material–and I think that the fertility depended somewhat on lightning nitrogen fixation, though when they fertilized with animal manure, the crops did a lot better, both with water retention at the roots and nutrients.
Neat. Thanks.


This scene is so touching:


Absolutely this.

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There are two intersecting complications here. One is that much of the information about climate involves consideration of the long-term climate record, extending through millions of years. Obviously, this clashes with young-earth claims, but it is based on extensive data from a wide range of lines of evidence, including changing distribution of organisms, patterns in growth lines in long-lived organisms, depositional layers in ice and sediment, changes in stable isotopes, and long-term wobbles in earth’s orbit that influence climate.

A second complication is that many young-earth and ID advocates have jumped on the politically conservative anti-environment bandwagon. My impression is that Seventh-Day Adventism has been better at avoiding this error than many. Conversely, some of those other YEC promote additional pro-big company science denial as well (e.g., claiming that secondhand smoke can’t hurt you or that pesticides are harmless).