Forests: Friend, Not Foe, in Climate Change

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  • Challenging Antisemitism
  • Republicans and the Migrants
  • Shoes-Off Homes

Credit…Illustration by Sam Whitney/The New York Times; photographs by Chris Hellier and georgeclerk/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Forests Won’t Save Us From Climate Change,” by David Wallace-Wells (Opinion, Sept. 9):

This article is an example of misleading messaging that distorts complex issues into something overly simplistic and provocative. Forests are critical in the fight against climate change!

Despite major investments in carbon capture technologies, vast tracts of trees remain the only effective, scalable way to capture and store massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Blaming forests for the carbon released from wildfires is like blaming homeowners for the 2007 real estate crisis.

Trees “breathe in” carbon dioxide and provide us oxygen in return, all while storing carbon in their tissues. Enemies? Hardly. We cannot survive without them. Now they are among the frontline victims of climate change, and it’s up to us to take care of them.

Excellent examples lie to the north, where Indigenous governments and organizations across the Boreal Forest of Canada are advancing the world’s most significant conservation proposals for their traditional territories.

Let’s move forward with real solutions rather than foster confusion that slows progress in the fight against climate change.

Jeff Wells
Gardiner, Maine
The writer is vice president for boreal conservation at the National Audubon Society.

To the Editor:

“Forests Won’t Save Us From Climate Change” argues that, because of climate-change-driven wildfires, forests are making the climate crisis worse, not better. But in many parts of the world, including the eastern United States, wildfires are not the biggest threat to carbon-sinking forests — logging is. As the author notes, logging releases much of the carbon stored in forests, carbon that will not be recaptured for decades or centuries at best.

Yet agencies like the U.S. Forest Service routinely target carbon-rich forests for timber projects. In North Carolina, for example, the agency recently announced plans to more than quadruple the amount of logging in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests without any provision to spare our oldest, healthiest and most carbon-dense forests.

Forests are and can continue to be an essential and cost-effective climate solution. But for these incredible landscapes to live up to their climate potential, we must condemn and push back on reckless policies that put mature and old-growth forests — and the centuries’ worth of carbon that they store — on the chopping block.

Sam Evans
Asheville, N.C.
The writer is a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center and leader of its National Forests and Parks Program.

To the Editor:

Intensive industrial logging and plantation forestry have led to many of our forests emitting more carbon than they store. However, David Wallace-Wells missed a hopeful development: the growing number of landowners opting for legal agreements that permanently conserve their carbon-rich forests through sustainable management while retaining private ownership.

These agreements, working forest conservation easements, offer an incentive for landowners to become allies in the climate battle. They allow owners to continue producing various forest products while focusing management on more climate-resilient conditions, ensuring that their lands remain thriving, biodiverse forests forever.

Unlike extensive tree planting initiatives, which require decades of careful management to transform into carbon-absorbing forests, a working forest can achieve significant carbon sequestration and climate resilience gains immediately.

Given that nearly 60 percent of U.S. forests are privately owned, these easements are a proven tool to ensure that forests remain our “climate friend.”

Laurie Wayburn
San Francisco
The writer is co-founder and president of Pacific Forest Trust.

Challenging Antisemitism

Credit…Chloe Cushman

To the Editor:

Re “Want to Fight Antisemitism? Embrace Jewish Traditions,” by Deborah E. Lipstadt (Opinion guest essay, Sept. 15):

I learned from my wise father to take pride in, and love, being Jewish, but to never think I was better than any other person or group. In that spirit, I believe that the most meaningful way we can challenge antisemitism is through a genuine, deep commitment to collective liberation for all people.

As we explore histories of antisemitism and Jewish experience, we can learn from the ways that the histories of so many communities struggling for justice are deeply interconnected — as are our futures.

We cannot understand antisemitism in isolation from other forms of injustice, but rather we need to deepen ways to collectively resist state-sanctioned and other forms of violence and strengthen one another, as so many are doing.

We must also understand what antisemitism is not, challenging false allegations of antisemitism toward those supporting justice and freedom for Palestinians. Our commitment to challenging antisemitism, anti-Black racism, anti-Palestinian racism, transphobia, Islamophobia and all forms of injustice are inextricably linked.

Donna Nevel
The writer is co-director of PARCEO, an education and research center that recently created a “Curriculum on Antisemitism From a Framework of Collective Liberation.”

Republicans and the Migrants

Migrant waves have put northern “sanctuary” cities, like New York, increasingly on edge, their budgets stretched, their communities strained.Credit…David Dee Delgado for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Migrant Crisis Divides North, Lifting G.O.P.” (front page, Sept. 9):

Republicans have indeed succeeded in making immigration a highly salient and emotional issue even in blue states. By flying and busing undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers to places like Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, some G.O.P. governors have drawn attention to a problem that is national in scope.

Tens of thousands more immigrants have made their own way around the country. However loathsome the original political stunt was, it seems to have worked on some level. State and local governments are overwhelmed and rightly call for federal help.

But no one should believe for a second that Republicans will help solve the problem. As they have shown over and over for the last 20 years, they would rather have the problem to use as a bludgeon against Democrats than any solution.

They will have a thousand reasons and excuses for their unwillingness to address the crisis in a meaningful way. But the bottom line is that the G.O.P. will block any solution. Every time.

Peter Whitehouse
Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Shoes-Off Homes

Credit…Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Here to Help: Vanessa Friedman Answers Your Style Questions” (Sept. 18), about visits to shoes-off homes:

An easy solution for a host to address guest timidness over shoeless requests is as follows: At Breezy Hill Inn, we ask our guests to take off their shoes/boots, especially in inclement weather, and don slippers that we store in baskets near the front door.

On occasion, guests ask if they might go shoeless instead. And in any case, the slipper option is always appreciated.

Michelle Sidrane
Fleischmanns, N.Y.
The writer is the owner of Breezy Hill Inn.

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