Published: Sunday, May 11 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT
"The potential for actively increasing soil carbon sequestration is so great
that scientists have calculated that we could employ it to rapidly remove all
human-released CO2 from the beginning of the industrial revolution until the
present time."This I think is way too optimistic. But there is
a process underway whereby carbon emitters can use tree-lot offsets in areas of
the world like Amazonia. And we worry about the consequences of forest
destruction in the Amazon basin.I hope there is something to this.
Note: climate change deniers will see these efforts as waste for the most part.
I've read and heard a great deal about the powerful CO2 absorbing factor of
the oceans, but until this article, almost nothing about the same effect from
soil, other than the obvious CO2 capture of soil-based plants (trees, grasses,
etc.) that must positively love all the CO2 we're spewing into the
atmosphere.Please, beyond simply stating, in somewhat hyperbolic
language, that there is a marvelous CO2 capturing potential in the soil, please
provide either the actual data supporting the claims or at least some pointers
to where we can find it.
This article seems to suggest that simply tending better care to our soil can
help society maintain the status quo of coal-fired power and oil. Sadly, it
can't.Coal creates significantly more problems for us than just
carbon emissions. It consumes significant water resources to make electricity
(for steam), and with droughts and increasing populations, reliance on coal will
become increasingly expensive, especially in the desert West. Coal requires
extraction and railroad/truck transport, which means more use of diesel fuel --
another resource escalating in price. The spewing of mercury and other
pollutants create more health problems for society, requiring more ObamaCare and
suffering of family members affected by poor air and water quality. Many fish
and waterfowl are now too mercury-laden from coal-fired power for consumption
today. The list of problems posed by igniting coal on fire goes on and on...
There's good reason for the war on coal.
C02 capture is a great idea. Problem is... the President's plan
doesn't stop there. He already said he won't be happy until he
bankrupts America's coal industry and his party leaders have been caught
saying their plan will cripple fossil fuel companies... Obama said
(it's recorded google it)... "Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system,
electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket" ...That makes it
hard to sell as a "win-win".It exposes a "we take all
the chips or else"... mentality. That makes many people uneasy.
Re: 2 bits Yep, he said it, but he was being unusually candid for a
politician. Here's the problem, and it is a classic one in environmental
economics. Producing power with coal produces an externality, that is, it
imposes a cost on greater society which is not covered in electric rates. That
external cost is global warming which is potentially huge. The cap and trade
setup is an attempt to bring the true costs of power production inside of the
power market, so electric rates reflect true costs. This is the neoclassical
economics concept of cost localization in action. Don't like it, hang a
mainstream economist, but leave me alone, I'm a Marxist.
Yes soil sequestration of Co2 works well while you have adequate rainfall,
however in a draught the CO2 is released again. Sorry this is not the silver
bullet. The earth has been storing away Carbon for millions of years so humans
could be placed on it. We are now using that stored carbon at such a rate that
we will make the earth unable to support our population.Don't
forget Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a stated Climate Denier.
He is extreme right wing and cares more about subsidizing mining companies than
caring for pensioners.Yes increased CO2 promotes plant growth
(Carbon Fertilization) however recent tests with CO2 at 550ppm show the crops
are less nutritious.
Some scientists believe we are in a cooling trend. Moreover any time a large
volcano could blow its' top resulting in another year without a summer and
millions dying of starvation. Some say arctic ice pack is shrinking, some say
antarctic ice pack is larger than ever seen before. Some say no increase in
temperature in 17 years yet CO2 is up. I wish someone would get together on
this stuff. Cool planet a company that wants to produce biofuel from corn
stover, miscanthus grass and stuff claims it will remove half the carbon and use
it as a fertilizer. Let us hop we can get thorium or something working.
Re: Marxist It does sound too good to be true, but it is. Look at this
draft book chapter entitled, Restoring Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide to
Pre-Industrial Levels: Re-Establishing the Evolutionary Grassland-Grazer
Relationship, posted on the web. Because there are no economic penalties
from adopting this approach, and such huge economic and environmental benefits,
there is little or no reason to oppose it once skeptics understand it. It makes
the scientific debate moot, since there is no real cost and many benefits for
everyone in pursuing soil carbon sequestration. Also, carbon storage in
forests is unstable and subject to both fire and rapid decomposition from decay.
Fire produces a witch's brew of CO2 and other polluting carbon compounds
as well as releasing huge volumes of carbon compounds from burned soils.
Decomposition releases CO2 in trees and vegetation and as large amounts of
methane from insect and bacterial digestion of the plant material. Deep
sequestration in rangeland, pasture and agricultural soils is much more
efficient. We know from research that it is stable for thousands of years and
there is no reason not to think it is sequestered permanently.
Re:ScarpiaAny energy source has tradeoffs. This includes alternative
sources. Some of these tradeoffs, are environmental, such as bird kills in wind
turbine fields. Others are economic such as putting countries adopting them
unilaterally at an economic disadvantage . Spain is a classic example of this
where too rapid adoption of alternative sources resulted in increased
unemployment, higher debt, a deep recession, etc. Other countries,
including India, China and some in Europe are building coal fired generating
plants at a rapid rate, so dealing with the CO2 emitted by burning coal is a
reality and an inevitable fact of life. Coal deposits vary widely in
sulfur, mercury and chlorine content, among other attributes. Utah coal is
notably low in all three of these. See the analysis by the Utah Geological
Survey for more details. While one can find problems with any energy
source, what we are proposing is the only way to effectively, quickly,
efficiently and naturally deal with CO2 no matter the source. Good policy
requires considering all advantages and disadvantages, including economic,
foreign policy, and others.
Re:Allistair Your comment illustrate the paradigm shift we mentioned in
our article. In fact, the relationship between such things as precipitation or
normal oxidation that you reference applies only to the "labile," or non
stable, carbon in the uppermost soil layers. What we now understand based on
scientific research discoveries in the past couple of decades is how "non
labile" carbon is bonded essentially permanently in deeper soil layers.
Accomplishing this requires adopting the right rangeland and agricultural
management practices, but it is being done around the world. As long as these
deeper layers stay intact and are not exposed to oxidation, the carbon bound in
the soil is not affected by precipitation. A good overview of this is an article
by an Australian researcher and acknowledged world class expert in the field.
Dr. Christine Jones. "Carbon that counts" can be found on the web.
Note also the references mentioned above.As for Australia, the focus on
soil sequestration began in the previous Labour government. Abbot is still
committed to meeting Australia's reduction targets under the Kyoto treaty,
but is abandoning the cap and trade approach of the previous government. So, it really could be the silver bullet.
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