The first time I heard about this was a few weeks ago, after James Lovelock, the famous British author scientist, talked about it and it was reported briefly in the news before the ADHD of our media went off to focus on another ambulance to be chased.
We are throwing trillions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere and it is a problem that must be solved. It is a problem that will probably spell our doom and probably most of the other species we share this planet with as well.
We don’t seem to be able to scale back. We continue to accelerate the addition of CO2 into the atmosphere in spite of what our scientists tell us.
Lovelock in his most recent talks is pessimistic that we will be able to solve this stalemate. There is no government or business will, and quite frankly, the masses have yet to rise up and try to put an end to the runaway need we have to make babies and to consume.
That being the case, Lovelock talked about bio-engineering. He considered technological solutions that would somehow suck the CO2 out of the atmosphere and let us consume and overpopulate to our hearts’ content. He dismissed most of them, but said that something called biochar was worth considering. He noted it was a last resort, but then qualified this by saying that we have so little time left to stop what he views as an apocalyptic, dystopian future, so anything and everything has to be considered in battling anthropogenic climate change. He said we must sequester the CO2 in trees.
Here is how it works. Grow the trees, everywhere. The more the better, the faster growing the better. Then when the trees mature in a few years, char them, kill them, locking the carbon they have in them from the CO2 they have sucked out of the atmosphere through their lifetimes.
Then bury the charred carbon husks anywhere you choose. And voila, you have a charcoal deposit, inert throughout the ages, harmless to life on the Earth, with the added benefit of being accessible in case you need it again. The scale we need to do this on is daunting.
We must plant millions and millions of fast-growing trees to replace what we have lumbered and more. Its a wonderful idea, billions of acres of green beautiful trees on every patch of land we can manage. The main question is, do we have the time for this to work. Lovelock is again pessimistic on this. Time is rapidly running out. What is also working against us is the space we need to make anything on this scale work.
Land used for forests to lock in carbon is generally land that does not produce food. And given that we still have a need to increase our burgeoning population, we are running out of arable land, land for indigenous wildlife and land to correct the massive mistakes we have made. Its a great idea, but maybe too little, too late.
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