While mildly alarmist, forests and good forest management are key to our future.
If forests were to die on a sufficient scale, they would not only stop absorbing carbon dioxide, they might also start to burn up or decay at such a rate that they would spew huge amounts of the gas back into the air as is already happening in some regions. That, in turn, could speed the warming of the planet, unlocking yet more carbon stored in once-cold places like the Arctic.
Scientists are not sure how likely this feedback loop is, and they are not eager to find out the hard way.
…It is clear that the point of no return has not been reached yet and it may never be. Despite the troubles of recent years, forests continue to take up a large amount of carbon, with some regions, including the Eastern United States, being especially important as global carbon absorbers.