Cutting down trees to manage wildfires isn’t a new thing, although it remains a hotly debated practice.
Tree thinning is a disputed procedure that has drawn as much criticism within the environmental community as support. Many scientists, researchers, and conservationists are against it, saying tree thinning can even worsen wildfires.
However, America’s woodlands have been culled for more than two decades for fire management. Now, climate activists are jumping into the conversation with a “carbon capture” argument for tree thinning.
Activists such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates have thrown their weight, and checkbooks, behind the practice of cutting down trees and burying them to address fears over carbon emissions.
Through his foundation Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Mr. Gates is a part of the $6.6 million seed investor pool backing Kodama Systems in its proposal to remove trees in California’s fire-challenged woodlands and bury them in Nevada to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2).
“We must dramatically accelerate forest thinning treatments,” the Boston-based firm says on its website. Kodama calls itself a “technology-driven forest restoration service.”
Mr. Gates is well known for his headline-grabbing methods of addressing his climate concerns—from buying up vast swaths of U.S. farmland to backing wild-card experiments such as solar geoengineering and, most recently, criticizing tree planting as a viable means of reducing CO2.
During The New York Times Climate Forward Summit in September, the billionaire didn’t hesitate to share his thoughts on the role of planting trees to mitigate climate concerns, calling it “complete nonsense.”
In an interview with NY Times reporter David Gelles, Mr. Gates responded dismissively to the idea that planting more trees can reverse adverse climate effects.
“That’s complete nonsense … I mean, are we the science people, or are we the idiots?” Mr. Gates asked rhetorically.