3. The Solution?

It’s 2013 and now we are talking about our carbon footprint, for a country like Australia it means a surplus of 24.4 tons of CO2 per capita per year. Imagine that; 24.400 Kg of pollution, every day one full trash bin filled with CO2 per person ends up in the air.

Everyone can do something to reduce their carbon footprint, starting with turn-of the light if you leave the room. Google global warming and you will find hundreds of tips to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s good to do so; wasting energy is the worst thing we do.

We can think of new forms of energy, solar panels, wind turbines, hybrid cars etc. It all will help in a small way, however there is only one solution what really helps to close Pandora’s Box.  The answer is straightforward; carbon released in the atmosphere needs to go back to where it from originally came from, back into the Lithosphere.

There are scientist who are developing a technique to purify the air and store CO2 deep underground. It’s a good idea but it leaves me asking myself; why develop something that’s already being done by nature? Why spend millions of dollars for a machine while planting a tree cost a few cents?

We don’t need to develop anything, we don’t have to wait to reduce global warming, everything is already there; if we want we could start tomorrow. The only thing we need to do is plant trees, let them grow, chop them down and preserve the timber or convert it into bio charcoal.

Reestablishing a tropical rainforest is not possible because it would take thousands of years to duplicate an ecologic system anything like it.  Besides this problem we already know that a rainforest is carbon neutral. If we want to store 4000 billion ton carbon (our fossil fuel deposit) in a forest we need to multiply our earth forest area with 8. Not really an option I think.

What we need is controlled tree plantations in tropical zones, fast growing trees usable for construction timber or bio charcoal. When a tree is young it grows at a rapid rate and photosynthesis runs on high speed. When a tree grows old it hardly uses CO2 anymore.

To everyone who is against logging; if we don’t chop a tree down and use the timber the tree will finally die and will rot away (oxidation). During this process the stored carbon will be released into the air. As long we preserve the timber in form of building material, paper, etc., the carbon is trapped.

To stop using timber would not stop release of CO2. In fact not using timber will create an increase of CO2 released in the atmosphere.  To understand this we need to realize that a tree is chemically not much more than strings of carbon and water.  We also can say; Trees are made of sugar and starch. A dead tree in the rain will dissolve like sugar and starch dissolves in water.

Forests are the ideal carbon storage medium. Forests absorb tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year, with little or no intervention required and no expenditure of energy. There are two contending points of view regarding best forest management to maximize the storage of carbon over time.

Strategies to maximize carbon storage in forests

1. Preserve forests indefinitely at maximum stored carbon content, protecting the forest from carbon-releasing agents such as fire, insects and disease.

2. Manage forests on a rotation cycle that maximizes growth rates, and store the wood from each harvest in structures protected from fire and decay.

By using timber you fight against Global Warming.  For example, the fossil fuel energy required to manufacture rough sawn timber is 1.5 MJ/kg while the manufacture of aluminum requires 435 MJ/kg. Think before you order your aluminum doors and windows.

As a government we should consider how to encourage timber as main building material.


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