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The Editors

Using Forests to Fight Climate Change

California is again leading the way.
Drought leaves forests vulnerable to bark beetles.

Drought leaves forests vulnerable to bark beetles.

Photographer: David McNew/Getty Images

Forests give us shade, quiet and one of the harder challenges in the fight against climate change. Even as we humans count on forests to soak up a good share of the carbon dioxide we produce, we are threatening their ability to do so. The climate change we are hastening could one day leave us with forests that emit more carbon than they absorb.

Thankfully, there is a way out of this trap -- but it involves striking a subtle balance. Helping forests flourish as valuable "carbon sinks" long into the future may require reducing their capacity to sequester carbon now. California is leading the way, as it does on so many climate efforts, in figuring out the details.