California: 2020 wildfires wiped out all state reductions in greenhouse gas emissions since 2003

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 | Tag Cloud Tags: , , ,

forest fire

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Nearly 20 years’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions reductions by California were erased in 2020 when catastrophic wildfires in the state dumped twice the amount of emissions into the air as had been reduced since 2003, USA Today reports.

The finding was made as part of a study published in the October 2020 edition of the Environmental Pollution journal.

California’s mega-fires of 2020 fires sent an estimated 127 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air, compared to the 65 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions California reduced between 2003 and 2019, USA Today said.

Wildfires were California’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gasses in 2020, surpassed only by motor vehicles, USA Today reports.

Wildfires are not “carbon neutral,” experts have explained, but they have not historically been factored into official emissions figures, USA Today said. This is because wildfires have always been considered natural disasters which cannot be controlled. Moreover, forests regrow and reabsorb recapture carbon dioxide released when the trees burned.

Scientists are now coming to see that greenhouse gas emissions from forest fires are a literal force to be reckoned with, now that the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the air is 50% more than it was in pre-industrial times, USA Today reports.

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