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Nature’s Carbon Capture

2011/08/09

A big part of tackling climate change is finding alternatives to burning oil as a source of energy.  In other words, stopping emissions of CO2.  But, there are also ways to take the CO2 we’ve already emitted out of the atmosphere.  I’m not a big fan of “carbon capture” technology – seems like hiding your mess under your bed when your mom tells you to clean your room.  Not to mention that there are doubts about the longer term stability of the under ground rock formations that would hold that CO2.  But, how about letting Mother Nature do it.

Planting trees is the obvious way to go.  But, a researcher by the name of Douglas Kell at the University of Manchester believes that “doubling root biomass to a nominal two meters is really the key issue, together with the longevity of the carbon they secrete and sequester below-ground,”.  In other words, breeding crop plants that have longer roots (up to two meters) would increase the quantity of CO2 captured per acre of crop land.  Longer roots would have many other benefits: it helps plants get to water during times of drought, it reduces erosion and it helps keep more nutrient in the ground (reducing the need for fertilizer).

The hope is to breed long-rooted plants (which already exist but are not used in agriculture) with our current crop plants.

Now that’s thinking outside the box!

Source: World Environment News

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