Carbon and Communities: Linking Carbon Science with Public Policy and Resource Management in the Northeastern United States


Human activities emit 28 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere each year contributing to climate change. As developing nations industrialize, these emissions will likely increase. In addition, the loss of forest resources for agriculture and development decreases the ability of the Earth to reabsorb, or sequester, some of this carbon dioxide. Today scientists believe that this system—releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while reducing the landscape’s capacity to sequester it—may lead to changes in our global and local climate that could have large social, economic, and ecological consequences.

The Hubbard Brook Research Foundation (HBRF) convened a team of scientists to create detailed carbon budgets for eight counties and one city in the northeastern United States to better understand the magnitude of the release and removal of carbon dioxide at a scale meaningful for state and local officials. Analyses of carbon dioxide emissions from transportation, residential, industrial, commercial, and land-use sources are summarized to help communities understand which sources of carbon dioxide can most efficiently be decreased in order to achieve a smaller carbon footprint.

Communities are increasingly interested in addressing climate change at the local level, but require methods to compare the cost and effectiveness of different carbon mitigation strategies over time. HBRF has developed several resources to assist regional planning agencies, local governments, and lawmakers compare the costs and benefits of major carbon mitigation options to reduce net carbon dioxide emissions. These resources, accompanied by scientific information, are intended to help evaluate such key issues as forest management practices, regional planning strategies, land-use decisions, transportation, energy efficiency upgrades, and alternative energy sources.


Earth Systems Research Center

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A Science Links Publication of the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation

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