The world already spends billions of dollars to make windmills, solar panels etc. Not one of these solutions is putting the genie back in the bottle. Establish huge tree plantations does. Controlled forestry is the answer.
Unlike pumping-up gas or oil, for trees we need space, space is the limited resource. Besides space there is a limitation of usable locations. If we plant a tree in the northern or southern hemisphere the tree will sleep during winter time. Efficient tree planting should be done in the tropics.
Because there is limited space available we need fast growing trees with big leaves for optimum photosynthesis and high rotation. After harvest the product should be commercially usable as building timber and/or bio-charcoal.
Converting wood to bio charcoal for soil improvement is the fastest way to transfer carbon from the atmosphere trough biosphere back to the lithosphere (ground). This process will generate carbon neutral energy, store carbon and speed up growth of vegetation.
Reforestation will help temporary until the equilibrium is reached, only the product of fast growing plantation trees will reduce the carbon efficiently and permanently from the atmosphere.
Economics is the keyword. At the moment tree-planting creates economic growth everything will be different. At the moment we realize that besides planting cutting as well is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas everything will be different. At the moment we realize that using timber (again) as main building material everything will be different.
To make any result it has to be big, not a little big, I mean big, big. To compensate an output of 31 billion tons carbon we need to process a lot of trees. This is not something mankind can do overnight. However with planting we can start tomorrow.
The first place to start can be Indonesia. Indonesia has plenty of land available for tree planting. Last few decades millions of hectare forest has been harvested for its timber or to establish palm oil plantations. Not all the land is used for plantations or other farmland. Only the island Kalimantan has more than 14 million hectare of so called degraded low carbon land. http://insights.wri.org/news/2012/10/2-new-tools-can-cut-deforestation-and-support-sustainable-palm-oil-indonesia
Imagine this; The average carbon foot-print per person on our planet is 4.6 ton CO2. 14 million hectare will offset the footprint of 90.000.000 people. What if we don’t leave it up to Indonesia, what if we put all our resources together and start the fight against global warming at a place where result will be visible and valuable. Following picture shows what could be the future of Kalimantan.
Is Indonesia waiting for this to happen? I don’t think so, not yet. First we need to learn and respect other countries norms and values. This counts for the donor country as well for the beneficiary country. We can’t bully another country and tell them what to do because it’s good for the rest of the world. Indonesia has to comprehend that what is happening at Kalimantan has consequences for the whole world.
Indonesian’s also have wants and needs and the right to develop. They can’t achieve that with giving away land to compensate the pollution of another country. It’s clear; protecting the rainforest doesn’t bring money in the pocket. Selling palm oil does.
Oil palm is the most productive oil seed in the world. A single hectare of oil palm may yield 5,000 kilograms of crude oil, or nearly 6,000 liters of crude, making the crop remarkably profitable when grown in large plantations — one study that looked at 10,000 hectare-plantations suggests an internal rate of return of 26 percent annually. As such, vast swathes of land are being converted for oil palm plantations. Oil palm cultivation has expanded in Indonesia from 600,000 hectares in 1985 to more than 6 million hectares by early 2007, and is expected to reach 10 million hectares by 2010.
To plant billions of trees and to process these trees into building material or bio charcoal is something different than asking people to plant a tree. It’s not about tree planting; it’s about infrastructure, logistic, planning, housing, schools, hospitals, cities.
To manage such a project it will create 6 to 10 million jobs. Below a picture how the 14 million hectare at Kalimantan looks like.
There is nothing, no roads, no people, no rainforest. Good soil waiting to become a palm oil plantation or the world can substitute it as tree plantation.
Indonesia has a problem with migration of people to the island Java, Cities like Jakarta and Surabaya are already over populated. This project could stop that migration.
This is a project for the world, carried-out by the world.
Bring in expertise from China to build in a short time infrastructure, Australia, the USA , Canada and Europe can give their help and expertise how Indonesia has to convert this land into intensive plantation forestry. The Netherlands can help with water management; all countries can do something to get this project done. It will give a boost to the Indonesian economy as well the world’s economy.
The key is money; an average Indonesian palm oil plantation creates a yield of +/- USD 3000.00 per hectare per year. If we want Indonesia to plant trees the yield of a tree plantation should be more than USD 3000.00 per hectare.
It’s not enough to supply funds and other resources to build this massif tropical plantation forest if there is no demand for its product. The western world should think how to utilize the timber or charcoal.
Indonesia has a lot to offer, to start with the available land and a population of 250 million people. Beside this there is a fully developed timber processing industry and don’t forget the capacity to transform one million hectare per year into palm oil plantation after 28 years that plantation is useless. There are millions of old palm and rubber trees not yielding anything.
All these resources can be used to such a project.
It will be a battle but no reason to let it go. Compare to drilling gas 10 km below sea level, flying a robot to mars, or developing the airbus, this project is peanuts.
We need vision, determination, knowledge and project funding. This time we will know what happen with all those carbon tax dollars. This project will be measurable and countable.