In 2016, U.S. GHG emissions were 20.15 metric tons CO2-equivalent per person.
So basically each american would have to cultivate about 0.196 acre of empress trees (792 sq meters, or 8522 sq foot) to become carbon neutral.
Can we eventually take per capita carbon footprint down to a fraction of what it was in 2016? I think so, if the people can be convinced to elect sane leaders in the US and elsewhere.
Can vast regions in the USA and other countries be re-forested? Yes, if the willpower is there.
Is it worthwhile to develop artificial carbon sequestration facilities that operate on vast scales? Yep.
There are political and practical difficulties doing that but there are also difficulties with wrecking the climate that might outweigh those.
It is called Carbon Forest Sylviculture (Leśne Gospodarstwo Węglowe). Over all it is more of a marketing scheme with very small impact. We tried to increase sequestration rates with correct sylvicultural regimes.
Currently it is more like a way for companies to sound ecological. IDK if it can be profitable, remember land and everything cost and I think those profit margins would be very small.
Forestry is science. There are loads of smart people working in this area currently.
China and India already plant a lot of trees.
US can sit back relax and dedicate that space to more research centers and get ahead while China/India are busy squeezing their population and putting up large pieces of land for reforestation.
Not every country has to do it, not many in Europe will shell out for reforestation.
The carbon in atmosphere will have effect nomatter where the tree is.
The US is more forested than it has been in the past.
honest question: can you point me to any US politician that has stood up to a corporation or corporate interest with laws that effectively say, "No, you can't have what you want, the people need <this> instead." and - most importantly - got those laws passed? I can't think of one. I think obamacare came close (which became one of the most hardfought wins ever), and yet the health insurance lobby still came out ahead. I dare say that no congress shall ever pass a law that harms a corporation (a de facto constitutional amendment).
What does that have to do with carbon control ? ICE auto industry, coal industry, oil and gas, etc, would all be "harmed" if US lawmakers passed anything that had a material impact on CO2 emissions. It would require multiple layers of alternative realities for that to ever happen, in my (admittedly cynical) opinion. I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm saying we should give up/not try. I _want_ us to solve global warming. I just can't picture it happening (at least for the redress method I listed above).
Furthermore, both Warren and Bernie Sanders seem to have genuine convictions w.r.t. climate change, health care, social inequality, etc. Whether or not their particular points of view are desirable is open for debate, but their multi-decade commitments to these issues are beyond question. They seem to have non-trivial support in the electorate as well - I encourage you to check them out, especially if you're feeling cynical or anxious about the future.
Great convictions are a start. but in order for them to actually pass legislation, they need other congress members to vote for them. and that's where the dirty tricks start (I wont vote for your X unless you vote for my Y, etc).
I guess I'm contradicting myself a bit, because I said "name one" without acknowledging that it takes a majority in congress to pass anything. So yes, Warren and Sanders have the courage to face corporate interests. Thank you. I just yearn for the day where shareholders of XYZ get a 30% haircut because laws were passed that reigned in their company's behavior.
(Of course, institutions can only be so effective when their leadership is unlawfully replaced with incompetent industry hacks by the next administration; the only way to tackle that is with higher-level political action: court fights, impeachment, and ultimately elections.)
Just laws on the books doesn’t accomplish anything. There are already plenty of laws against ripping off consumers, but corporatist ideologues in control of the US Supreme Court have spent the last several decades watering down the potential liability via increasingly tendentious reinterpretations.
Now, the question is, why don't these agencies enforce the same laws against corporations? That's the premise of my initial comment, which you also misunderstood.
Many of the ones commonly considered to be “law enforcement agencies” per se are listed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_law_enforcement_in_the... but there are many other federal agencies which might also be considered “law enforcement” under a broader interpretation of that term.
Different agencies have different focus, different mandate, different institutional powers, etc.
Arguably the functions established for the CFPB to perform could be undertaken by some other institution. But the point of the legislation and its implementation (which Warren and others worked very carefully on) was creating a semi-autonomous institution solely focused on consumer financial protection.
During the Obama years the CFPB was pretty effective, despite unified and extreme opposition from GOP politicians. (Its effectiveness explains why some folks were eager to see it defanged.)
This is a straw man. Nobody thinks this.
> but we don't need a "domestic violence bureau"
There are several federal institutions which deal with domestic violence (alongside additional state and local ones). For example the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and has the mandate to “understand, respond to, and prevent” domestic violence.
The FBI can also investigate specific domestic violence crimes, but my impression is that it is not their highest priority.
Domestic violence is a huge problem and is famously underreported, underinvestigated, and underprosecuted. Probably not the best example you might pick; arguably having additional government agencies with the power to do something about domestic violence might make a positive difference. (Disclaimer: I know very little about this subject.)
OTOH, most corporate crimes do cross state boundaries and thus are within the jurisdiction of both state and federal authorities.
With respect to cigarettes, the product itself doesn't kill people. There are people that live for decades smoking multiple times a day. The secondary effects kill many people, but there isn't a sufficiently strong correlation to ban cigarettes outright.
It also possible that Empress is so efficient that the market for wood expands more than it would otherwise. Say you use more wood to replace concrete in buildings . That would also count as a reduction. But in neither scenario would you be able to count all 103 tons per acre per year.
A confounding factor, can it really compete on a mass scale with existing lumber?
> Paulownia trees take a lot of work to manage. They require pruning twice a year to establish a clear timber trunk. They need particular growing conditions, and don’t like wet feet or strong winds. 
Is this why the industry is not already growing the tree?
Replacing a complete lack of tree with any other tree is an improvement.
Global CO2 emissions: ~40GT/year
Area required: ~600K square miles
This is approximately the size of the entire state of Alaska. Every year.
New forest can store a buffer in perpetuity, e.g., a new trillion trees can store 133 Gt. But current emissions are > 40 Gt/year, so this is < 4 years worth of emissions.
It's not the tree which does that. It's the organisms consuming the tree during the decomposition process which do that. And that doesn't happen all at once. Indeed, if you grow another tree then you're likely to still be net-positive.
If you use the tree for other purposes -- construction, for example. Or burning for energy production -- then it becomes a useful part of the lifecycle.
Doesn't that just release the C02 again? Construction purposes might help, or any other way of sequestering.
Probably other factors are small, but hard to predict (particulates, volatile chemicals, other effects of growth). Might be positive or negative.
>Once the trees reach maturity, farmers harvest their wood for use in houses or musical instruments
as in the article. You could make chunky log cabin type buildings to use more. I'd quite like a log mansion.
Also in all those discussions of processes(!) I find people even here seem to be looking at points in time only, and usually at the start of the process. That also includes the issue of looking at just one tree instead of a forest. When you look at the whole system individual tree life cycle doesn't matter any more. Some trees grow old and die or are harvested (what happens?), others grow in their place, overall the forest remains at a pretty stable and fixed weight. Unless you find trees that keep growing for miles and miles higher for thousands of years.
Look at total biomass, not at tree life cycles! The equations at that point of a mature forest are balanced. The whole forest stores a fixed amount and that's it. As long as we keep bringing carbon from very ancient forests back out of the earth, it does not matter how many forests there are. You will only get a temporary dip.
This whole thing is ridiculous: Even if we decided to bury grown trees deep underground to remove their carbon from the surface forever - why not save the huge effort (and the energy that process needs which again has to be fed somehow - with even more fossil fuels for quite some time to come) and simply leave the ancient forests where they are (deep underground)?
You can plant trees as much as you like, as long as we continue to bring up carbon from underground it is useless - apart from a temporary (small) dip. The above-ground forests will never be big enough to compensate for the below-ground forests being brought back up.
A quick search shows links and links of opinion and "studies" all about "we can store carbon underground!" Well, wait, what?? I don't get it. - it's already (down) there!! Earth did just that a long time ago! Just stop bringing it up, then you don't need to find ways to get it back down, which according to the laws of physics is a net-negative process. For the same amount somehow stored underground we need far more for the energy to do so, as long as we rely on carbon for energy (which won't change any time soon at scale across the world). And if we don't need the carbon for energy we won't bring it up any more (about three quarters of oil is used for energy or heating, an even higher share of natural gas and coal).
I really don't understand the discussion at all. It seems like a great distraction, all those studies and headlines and discussions about storing CO2 underground? For the reason mentioned. After you get it out and burn it (i.e. turned it into CO2), you will need even more of it to get the energy to get it back down where it already was to begin with. Even if we would have 100% solar/wind, the whole scenario does not sound very useful to me at the imagined scale. Even using it as temporary energy store/source for energy demand when wind/solar are not available should be done with what already is above ground, or if it involves a blow-ground cycle it should be one far smaller than the current extraction and the imagined reburying.
Having more forests is wonderful for many reasons (even though at this point vast areas are removed - https://www.livescience.com/27692-deforestation.html). However, the attention it gets as some sort of "solution" for global CO2 levels amazes me (in combination with the fact I just linked even more - stopping what we are doing would be soooo much more impactful, both destruction of current and previous forests above as well as underground).
You bury them in buildings. As lumber.
Replace concrete (which produces CO2) in new buildings with wood (which sequesters it) and you've tackled quite a bit of carbon emissions.
Unless you add additional options by having two different items (tress + buildings), e.g. the option to stack them on top of one another, it does not matter if the carbon is stored in a tree or a building made from it. They all share the same limited surface space and you could just replace all buildings with trees in the model, or vice versa and it does not change the total storage capacity here on the surface. I refer back to everything I wrote.
Is that per year or per average lifetime?
If you're trying to do carbon capture, maybe this is a feature? Assume you mean that literally, and you can just chop one down and another will grow in its place, that's pretty great, since trees only capture carbon when they are growing.
And yeah, this is actually a huge bonus for carbon capture!
You need to store wood long-term somehow. Or burn it and store CO2 underground, turning it into rock.
I reread the article and I see no mention of it?
>...its ability to sprout prolifically from adventitious buds on stems and roots allows it to survive fire, cutting and even bulldozing in construction areas; making it difficult to remove from established areas.
> Cutting or girdling trees with power or manual saws are effective at preventing seed production, but an herbicide treatment is necessary following cutting since Paulownia readily re-sprouts. Hand pulling may be effective for young seedlings. Plants should be pulled as soon as they are large enough to grasp. Seedlings are best pulled after a rain when the soil is loose. The entire root must be removed since broken fragments may re-sprout. Cutting or pulling is the preferred mechanical treatments of the Paulownia tormentosa; do not use fire because this species is able to survive fire and then quickly proliferates and out-competes native tree species post-fire.
Seems like a recipe for an invasive plant (much like those awful pear trees the were used for landscaping)
 I dug up the article https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/how-we-tur...
> "After the first year of growth, trees are cut down to the stump, the rest sold for timber. This process, called coppicing, promotes bigger and straighter growth the following year."
Though I have personally never heard about anything actually manufactured with the actual "empress" or "princess" timber.
It seems like in Japan it has a number of tradititonal uses, the family is that of the Paulownia:
Lumber would be one use. So would charcoal, or paper. Or possibly even burying them. But either way, growing them is only half the battle.
I wonder if there's a business here, replacing eucalyptus trees for empress, which might very well grow faster and without as many externalities, such as the water cost, or the bark eucalyptus trees shed which is a fire hazard
Note that they are not harvesting until 2022 according to the plan, so it remains to be seen if they can effectively execute on their sales strategy.
Even if it is - understandably in a prospect for investors - a tad bit (IMHO) scaring, this is the central issue:
>No Market for ES Lumber in North America
>A return on a Subscriber’s investment in the Company is dependent on the aggregate of board feet of ES Lumber that the Company is able to harvest from its ES Tree crops and the price per board foot for which it can sell its ES Lumber, both of which are subject to numerous external
factors beyond the control of the Company and the Company.
>The market for ES Lumber in North America is unestablished.
>If the Company is unable to develop the market or if the market does not expand on its own or if the Company is unable to sell to the Asian market, the Company may not be able to sell its ES Lumber for a profit or at all, which may result in a loss of some or all of
a Subscriber’s investment in the Company.
In a nutshell the issue is that there is not (yet) a market for the wood, and in order to create the market one needs to have substantial quantities of the material to offer.
The provided "Fender" example is typical (egg and chicken):
>WTT contracted with Fender Guitars in 2010 to supply ES Lumber for the building of Telecaster and Stratocaster Guitars. Fender was pleased with the results of their prototypes and requested thousands of board feet to build more guitars and speaker boxes. Due to limited availability of ES Lumber, WTT was unable to fulfil the demand at the time. However, the Company has recently
located a source of 3 million board feet of ES Lumber and is currently negotiating the sale of the lumber to Fender and other buyers.
25k -> 355k in 10 years is at least 29% year over year return. That seems... improbable.
On the other hand, if they really do such a great job storing carbon, seems like there is potential for them to make money on the fact people are willing to pay to offset their emissions.
So instead of what happens today when a tree dies and rots, the tree died and just piled up in the forest. I always think it's amazing to imagine what a forest must have looked like during the Carboniferous with all these dead trees just piled high. Trees were essentially like today's plastic: non-biodegradable refuse that stuck around for millennia. Eventually all those trees got buried and turned into fossil fuels (mostly coal).
And, interestingly, this process let to huge climate change back then, too - basically the reverse of what's happening now (and at a much slower pace). Trees sucked all this carbon out of the air and reduced global temperatures by about 8C.
Edit: One other note - there were of course still forest fires during the Carboniferous. It's believed they would have been incredible raging infernos with so much undecomposed combustible material.
The tree absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and combines it with water (H2O) from the soil to produce more complex chemical compounds (such as carbohydrates). This process uses sunlight as the source of energy, and is better known as photosynthesis. The chemical compounds thus produced are used by the tree as structural material (the wood), or as stored energy (basically, reverting the photosynthesis reaction, aka "burning", releases the energy).
If the tree matter gets consumed by animals, those animals are going to use the stored energy, and ultimately re-release the stored carbon as CO2. If the tree just dies and is allowed to decompose, bacteria and other microorganisms will do the same: they'll eat the carbohydrates that the tree produced, and they'll breathe out the resulting CO2. If the tree is burned as fuel, the CO2 gets re-emitted directly.
So, to truly remove that CO2 from the atmosphere, the tree needs to be felled once it's stopped growing, and the resulting wood stored someplace where it can't be decomposed by microorganisms. Burying it is one solution to this (and this is what happened during the carboniferous era, when much of our coal and oil got created: dead trees fell in shallow swamps and were quickly buried under a layer of silt which prevented the decomposition).
Again, I'm no expert, so I'm happy to stand corrected if I've made any mistakes above.
There are some active land management techniques which do something similar with shrubs/plants/grasses which generate an enormous amount of soil and therefore trap a lot of carbon.
Technically it's the 2xCO_2 -> 2xO_2+2C and the Carbon that sticks around becomes the wood. (also insert Water and energy into that equation. Photosynthesis is crazy).
And yes, if it gets burned or decomposed that carbon can get released back into the air (usually as CO2) but if you instead bury it you essentially lock it into solid form. And over years and years that becomes oil!
Question, though: isn't this something you learned in school?
After the tree dies, it would only go back into the atmosphere if the trunk was burned.
To nitpick: or if it decomposes in other ways.
- Shallow burying the wood would not stop emissions from escaping into the atmosphere. Doing so would deprive it of oxygen which would cause the production of methane which is even worse than co2
- Wood is way less dense than coal so even if the idea worked you would only be able to store a fraction of the amount of co2
- Its hard to imagine the sheer scale of collecting all the wood to ship back to the mines. As mentioned wood is much less dense than coal so the effort to ship the wood to coal mines would be much more difficult than shipping the coal out of the mines. Not to mention that the wood would be coming from a much wider area.
There are ideas about burning wood to produce electricity, capturing the CO2 exhaust and pumping that deep underground. The concept is called Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS).
This process is why you have methane production in swamps and conventional landfills.
Its a complex ecosystem with the plants at the center, and trees, since they have the deepest roots do the best at promoting carbon uptake. Of course, if you clearcut a forest the soil ecosystem dies and the carbon eventually comes back out of the ground.
However, you can hijack the process a little and keep the carbon locked away by doing things. You could use the wood as lumber or you could burn the wood in a special way which produces biochar.
The clue to net carbon capture is to plant new forests and make sure the forest stays alive. While the forest lives, all the CO2 is safely sequestered.
Look like according to this random Medium blog, we should aim to remove 10B metrics tons every year? So that's 970MM acres? https://medium.com/@friedmann2/going-negative-time-to-suck-i...
"Carbon" is 10B
"CO2" is 40B
This article says Carbon in the headline but CO2 in the body
From the body of the article:
> While each acre of most tree species can capture and store 1.1 to 9.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, an acre of empress trees can absorb 103.
40 billion / 103 = 388 Million acres of Empress Trees
China is around 2 billion acres in size
22% of China is covered by forests
22% of 2 billion is 440M
In theory China alone can solve this problem by replacing the indigenous trees with these trees. Bad idea though for obvious reasons.
In practice if every compatible country just got rid of some sub-optimal tree and replaced it with this tree, it could probably work.
If we gathered up the annual amount of money spent on "solving" Climate Change - one example that comes to mind is the recent Google summit where all the B-tier Celebrities went to in Yachts and Private Jets. What if we took all the money that these kinds of events cost and devote it to this single exercise. I'm pretty sure it could be done. All it would take is some governments to say OK. They can get paid for it by the other countries too as a one-off payment.
Not sure what other effects like invasiveness of the species factor in.
Folks should still be preserving the seeds and protect the local ecology as much as possible but they don't mean anything if the climate change isn't slowed down or reversed resulting into the same loss anyway.
Edit: Turns out Bamboo is classified as plant. But the question remains the same.
Bamboo is hollow so probably doesn't capture as much carbon compared to a solid tree. You can also use the wood from trees in a lot more places than bamboo.
Offsetting current carbon emissions would require some 50 trillion trees. An alternative offset would be to cultivate kelp forests. Kelp can grow at 2 feet per day, 30 times faster than terrestrial plants. Planting kelp across 9% of the oceans (4.5 x the area of Australia) could provide the same offset. Additionally, the kelp would support a fish harvest of 2 megatons per year and reduce ocean acidification. Large scale open ocean forestry would require engineered substrate and added nutrients.
>”...thus, princesstree frequently establishes and spreads after disturbances that create these conditions, such as fire, windstorms, pestilence, floods, landslides, and anthropogenic disturbances such as construction, cultivation, mining, and logging”
> “Hu suggests that by the time Paulownia grows to maturity, the seeds it produces likely cannot survive within the same habitat as the parent plant because the succeeding vegetation has ‘modified the physical environment so much that no new Paulownia has any chance to get established’. Thus, princesstree may not alter the successional pathways of some native ecosystems.“
>Is the tree invasive?
>The short answer is: No, the Empress Splendor tree is not invasive.
>The Empress Splendor tree belongs to the genus Paulownia. There are many different species of Paulownia and only one is classified as invasive, the Paulownia tomentosa (http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/printree.shtml). We do not use this variety, choosing instead non-invasive species such as the Paulownia fortuneii.
>The Rainforest Alliance has chosen Paulownia as an ecologically sound tree for the purposes of reforestation and carbon sequestration (View the Rainforest Alliance Report).
>The Rainforest Alliance is internationally recognized as a certification program for sustainable forestry and best practices for tree planting and agroforestry.
From my perspective, and quoting interstellar "There's no time for caution"
I would go over and say that maybe even doing genetic altering of the tree, so it could fit our purposes better might be a good idea. Be it making it extremely vulnerable to specific herbicide or make it grow/capture carbon even faster
The only natural mechanisms to transfer carbon between the two cycles are the planet's tectonic and volcanic activities. This has changed in recent history and we are constantly extracting carbon buried underground (long cycle) and release it into the atmosphere (short cycle). Capturing the atmospheric carbon into trees can be helpful, but it still remains on the surface.
The real solution is to stop burning fossil fuels altogether.
Which is effectively what oil and coal are. Hence why we need to stop digging them up and burning them first.
It doesn't make a lot of sense to dig a deep hole to extract carbon from the ground at the same time and you're digging a different deep hole to put it back in, when you could save yourself a lot of trouble and just leave it there. (And burn the wood to generate electricity if that's cheaper than alternatives like solar and nuclear, which it isn't.)
As a layman in this field I can only observe, that topics regarding climate change and carbon sequestration appear alot more frequently here than a year before. I can only guess, that more people are realizing that there's a need for change. But there's no clear path forward.
So every project providing even a small chance for success gets into the news. I don't know if that is good or bad, but it's fricking hard to get a good picture of the current situation and what projects are worth investing in...
I'm kind of worried we're getting lots of CC propaganda though. I usually consult project drawdown or IPCC for facts-check.
I've assumed carbon capture would be implemented by burying it. Maybe even pump it back underground, to also help counteract subsidence. Or really far-fetched is making misc kinds of bricks.
Could you elaborate on this? I couldn't see anything in that article to back up that statement.
Anyone got a good source for the 103 tons per acre stat?
All I've found so far is the Bloomberg link, which I think is from the World Tree Website (the company spotlighted in the article). World Tree  says the source is The Environmental Resources Trust, but doesn't provide a link.
They’ve cut it down twice, butchered the stump, given it a chemical bath. It is currently back at gutter height.