Letter to the editor: College overstates trees’ impact on greenhouse gas

Middlebury College has established a goal of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Certainly this is an admirable goal. But their current claim of carbon neutrality is premature, because the college says that it is relying on trees in their forest to take up additional CO2 and sequester it. That is more CO2 than the trees are already sequestering. This claim is not logical.
On our family farm, Stonewood Farm, we started energy efficiency improvements in 1980 — mostly paid for by us. We have built two super-insulated, energy efficient houses, added insulation and sealing to another, installed energy efficient water heaters, LED lighting, heating and home refrigeration. In our slaughter plant the same improvements plus eight efficient refrigeration compressors and 28 very efficient fan motors in our walk-in refrigerators and freezers. And much more.
Now the message from Middlebury College is that all our efforts and money was wasted, because trees, our 400 acres of trees on our farm, could easily be doing additional work of removing CO2. And that’s the message climate change deniers will hear. It will strengthen their denial.
Questions for the college: Since your laudable goal is to be carbon neutral, why aren’t there thousands of solar collectors on top of the new Patterson Sports Complex? Why don’t you have a windmill or two on the golf course? Why aren’t all your vehicles electric?
Climate change is real, manmade, we must take drastic steps to reduce all greenhouse gasses. But counting on additional sequestration by northern forests is not the answer.
Paul Stone

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