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Feb 05, 2016 01:00 PM EST

Europe's Forest Growing Efforts Did Not Curb Global Warming


Europe may be inadvertently encouraging global warming by increasing the amount of dark green conifers it is planting.

According to Reuters, Europe upped its tree-planting efforts based on research that suggested more forestation was better for slowing climate change. But a new study published in the journal Science suggests the darker trees did not help in the way Europe thought it would.

"Even well managed forests today store less carbon than their natural counterparts in 1750," study lead author Kim Naudts, of the Laboratory of Climate Science and Environment in Gif-sur-Yvette, France, told BBC News. "Due to the shift to conifer species, there was a warming over Europe of almost 0.12 degrees and that is caused because the conifers are darker and absorb more solar radiation."

For the study, the researchers examined average temperatures in Europe during the summer and found a 0.12 degree Celsius rise since 1750. They also found the more global-warming-preventative lighter trees were decreasing at the hands of the conifers, which are known to grow quickly.

"Obviously forest loss and forest degradation strongly contributed to greenhouse gas emissions until the 1950s," Marcus Lindner, head of the Sustainability and Climate Change Research Programme at the European Forest Institute, told The Washington Post. "I find it not credible to combine 200 years of suspected negative contribution to climate change mitigation with 60 years of positive climate change mitigation through management and then claim that (based on combined 260 years) forest management does not work."

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