ALBANY, N.Y. – If you plant some trees, is it OK to drive an Escalade? The question isn’t as silly as it sounds. People worried about global warming increasingly are trying to “offset” carbon dioxide – the leading greenhouse gas – that they spew into the atmosphere when they drive, fly or flick on a light. One idea popular with the eco-conscious is to have trees planted for them. You get to keep driving and flying, but those trees are supposed to suck in your trail of carbon. Whole forests have been funded by tree-loving celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Coldplay, while more modest packages tailored to typical consumers are proliferating. But some researchers say planting trees – while a good thing – is at best a marginal solution to global warming. Still others decry tree-planters who continue to jet off to Cannes, drive their SUVs or generally fail to reduce their fuel-hungry lifestyles. To those critics, plantings and other carbon offsets are like the medieval practice of selling indulgences to wash away sins: It may feel good, but it doesn’t solve much. “The sale of offset indulgences is a dead-end detour off the path of action required in the face of climate change,” says a report by the Transnational Institute’s Carbon Trade Watch. Groups that offer tree offsets typically rely on Web calculators requiring users to type in how many miles they drive, how much electricity they use and how far they fly. Figure out how much CO2 someone is responsible for (output), compare it to the work average trees can do (input), and you have a formula for neutralizing a person’s “carbon footprint.” While the band Coldplay famously funded 10,000 mango trees in India to soak up emissions related to the production of a CD, the average consumer can get off far easier. For $40, Trees for the Future will plant 400 trees in a developing country to handle your car emissions. In June, Delta Air Lines will allow online ticket buyers to help offset emissions of their flights through tree plantings in the U.S. and abroad: $5.50 for domestic round trips, $11 for international. “It’s easy to do and it makes a big difference,” said Jena Thompson of the Conservation Fund, Delta’s partner and one of many groups that will plant trees on your behalf. The science seems sound: Trees take in carbon dioxide as part of photosynthesis and store the carbon. But even conservationists caution it’s not as simple as planting a sapling so you can crank up the air conditioning without guilt. Offset groups use averages to estimate how much carbon a given tree or forested acre can capture. For instance, the nonprofit Conservation Fund figures that each tree planted captures less than 1 tons over 100 years. To put that in perspective, consider that about 7.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide were produced from the burning of fossil fuels worldwide in 2003, the most recent estimate available. And how much carbon dioxide a tree can soak up varies, said John Kadyszewski of Winrock International, a nonprofit that works on environmental projects. A huge California redwood might have 30 tons of carbon stored, while a 100-year-old pine might have less than a ton. “Trees are all different,” said Kadyszewski, coordinator for ecosystem services for Winrock, “and the amount of carbon in the tree depends on how old it is and where it’s growing and what kind of tree it is.” Kadyszewski notes that most online calculators use conservative numbers, meaning they’re not likely to exaggerate benefits. The Conservation Fund and Carbonfund.org both say they plant more than enough trees to deliver on promised offsets. There are other potential problems, however. Some researchers suggest forests in the snowy North might actually increase local warming by absorbing sunlight that would otherwise be reflected into space. And dead, decaying trees release some of that captured carbon back into the atmosphere. Perhaps most importantly, some researchers say it’s simply not possible to plant enough trees to have a significant effect on global warming. Michael MacCracken, chief scientist at the nonpartisan Climate Institute in Washington, said tree-planting has value as a stopgap measure while society attempts to reduce greenhouse gases. But University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver fears tree offsets could steal the focus of a problem that requires technological advances and behavioral changes. “The danger is that you could actually think you’re solving a problem,” Weaver said. “It makes you feel good. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, like changing a couple of light bulbs. But the reality is it’s not going to have a significant effect.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Mexico kept the game respectable into the second half before the United States pulled away for a 127-100 victory Monday night in the second round of the FIBA Americas tournament. “I was talking to Nolan before the game and he said his team was in great shape, and they were,” Krzyzewski said. “They kept making shots no matter how many we went up. They never gave up. They just kept making shots and that’s to their credit.” Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points, tying the American record in an Olympic qualifier. He had 16 in a sensational opening quarter, when the Americans shot 80 percent from the field. But the Mexicans, who sneaked into the second round through a three-team tiebreaker, outplayed their more talented counterparts for much of the next two periods before the U.S. put them away for good late in the third. “I’m not into moral victories, but I am into the fact we came back and played extremely hard that second quarter, and that’s how my teams have always been,” Richardson said. “We never give up and that’s why they call it `40 minutes of Hell.”‘ From news services LAS VEGAS – Nolan Richardson yelled, gestured and stomped around just like it was a national championship game. Mike Krzyzewski was on the other bench with his usual intense stare. The setting was different from the last meeting between the coaches, but one thing hadn’t changed: Richardson’s teams still fight for 40 minutes. Mexico (1-3) rarely showed the pressure defensive style the Richardson used at Arkansas. But Mexico hustled for offensive rebounds and shot 15-of-28 from 3-point range to hang around. Kobe Bryant added 21 points, and LeBron James and Dwight Howard had 19 apiece for the United States (4-0), which led by only 15 points midway through the third quarter after beating its first four opponents by 48.4 points per game. The Americans face Puerto Rico tonight. “They kept playing hard,” Anthony said. “The Mexico team never gave up; they fought all the way to the end. “We’ve been beating teams by 40, 50 points, so when we win by 20, 25, it don’t look right. But at the same time, it was an ugly win, but we take it and we’re going to get better. I guarantee we’re going to get better and be ready for tomorrow.” Romel Beck, who played for UNLV, scored 20 points for Mexico, which plays Brazil today. Richardson beat Krzyzewski for the 1994 national championship when Arkansas edged Duke, but Richardson had little hope of winning this matchup. Still, he didn’t coach any differently. Richardson, his hair and mustache now gray, could easily be heard hollering instructions at his players over a Thomas & Mack Center crowd of just 4,028. He gestured frequently during a lengthy discussion with a referee moments after Howard had knocked a pair of Mexican players to the ground late in the first half. Richardson chatted with Krzyzewski and U.S. assistant Jim Boeheim, another NCAA champion, before the game. Krzyzewski made a pair of changes to his starting lineup, going with Chauncey Billups over Jason Kidd and replacing Howard with Amare Stoudemire. It didn’t affect the Americans at the start. Anthony’s dunk capped a 17-2 run that gave the Americans a 35-14 lead with a little more than 2 minutes left in the first quarter. Anthony, who set the U.S. record for a world championships game last summer with 35 points against Italy, equaled Denver Nuggets teammate Allen Iverson’s 28-point night from the ’03 qualifier. Puerto Rico 97, Brazil 75: Puerto Rico, which less than 24 hours earlier looked like a team headed home, came up with an impressive victory over Brazil (2-2). Larry Ayuso had 24 points for Puerto Rico (1-3), the last team to advance to the second round of the tournament. Panama had to lose its game against Argentina on Sunday night for Puerto Rico to move on. Canada 95, Uruguay 88: Canada got physical with Uruguay (2-2) and used its size advantage in a victory. Jesse Young had 22 points, Levon Kendall had nine points and nine rebounds, and Samuel Dalembert had 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks to lead Canada (2-2). “We’re a team that always tries to find the hot hand and my teammates did such a good job at that that I was shooting layups,” said the 6-foot-10 Young, who played at George Mason. Argentina 98, Venezuela 63: Carlos Delfino had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Argentina (4-0) hit 14-of-26 from 3-point range in a victory over Venezuela (0-4).160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!