Burying Trees

[Cross-posted from Coyote Blog]

A few weeks ago I argued that if we really thought that CO2 was the biggest threat to the environment (a proposition with which I do not agree) we should not recycle paper or Christmas trees – we should wrap them in Saran Wrap and bury them.  Earlier I wrote this:

Once trees hit their maturity, their growth slows and therefore the rate they sequester CO2 slows.  At this point, we need to be cutting more down, not less, and burying them in the ground, either as logs or paper or whatever.  Just growing forests is not enough, because old trees fall over and rot and give up their carbon as CO2.  We have to bury them.   Right?

I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek, trying to take CO2 abatement to its illogical extreme, but unfortunately the nuttiness of the environmental movement can outrun satire.  These folks advocate going into the forests and cutting down trees and burying them:

Here a carbon sequestration strategy is proposed in which certain dead or live trees are harvested via collection or selective cutting, then buried in trenches or stowed away in above-ground shelters. The largely anaerobic condition under a sufficiently thick layer of soil will prevent the decomposition of the buried wood. Because a large flux of CO2 is constantly being assimilated into the world as forests via photosynthesis, cutting off its return pathway to the atmosphere forms an effective carbon sink….

Based on data from North American logging industry, the cost for wood burial is estimated to be $14/tCO2 ($50/tC), lower than the typical cost for power plant CO2 capture with geological storage. The cost for carbon sequestration with wood burial is low because CO2 is removed from the atmosphere by the natural process of photosynthesis at little cost. The technique is low tech, distributed, easy to monitor, safe, and reversible, thus an attractive option for large-scale implementation in a world-wide carbon market

Its a little scary to me that I can anticipate this stuff.

  • jamesM

    There’s something even crazier than burying trees. Right now there is a scientist who recieve’s funding to develop artificial trees. That’s your tax dollars spent to reinvent the wheel. The more you dig the crazier it gets!

  • litesong

    It is your article that first told me of tree burial, cutting living matter away from the process in which trees help create new soils, in an effort to capture carbon dioxide. A quick google shows the only people mentioning tree burial are non-environmentalists ‘satirizing’ environmentalists…no one else. Sounds like you got lots of laughs on this non-issue & perked up your ego.

    As far as the tax dollar artificial tree commenter demeaning his gov’t…he would have been more helpful telling people to buy a live Christmas tree to use for 4 years & then planting the Christmas tree. Better yet, buy a characterful Bristle Cone tree, use it for 50 Christmas times, then plant it to live for 5000 years.

    Actually, your bad ‘satire’ tries to cover up the incredible waste we pour into the atmosphere…waste that kills lots of people directly & waste that will kill lots of people from the drastically changed Earth & societies trying to cope.