Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is not a polite way to tell someone to, "Shut your mouth!" According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Terrestrial carbon sequestration is the process through which carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is absorbed by trees, plants and crops through photosynthesis, and stored as carbon in biomass (tree trunks, branches, foliage and roots) and soils. The term "sinks" is also used to refer to forests, croplands, and grazing lands, and their ability to sequester carbon. Agriculture and forestry activities can also release CO2 to the atmosphere. Therefore, a carbon sink occurs when carbon sequestration is greater than carbon releases over some time period.

Old-growth forests, such as Audubon's Francis Beidler Forest, qualify as "sinks" for carbon sequestration. This month's National Geographic Magazine highlights the old-growth redwood forests of the Pacific coast in "The Tallest Trees: Redwoods." Not only are the environmental benefits of old-growth discussed (soil erosion control, higher water quality, greater species diversity, carbon sequestration, etc.), but scientists have found that older trees grow more rapidly and have higher-quality wood than younger trees. Although they may not be growing as rapidly, the younger portions of Beidler Forest's 16,000 acres are also sequestering carbon, since they are no longer being logged.

Today's Post and Courier reported on a local plan to deal with excess carbon dioxide in Bo Petersen's "Storage for Carbon Dioxide?" Geologists from the University of South Carolina will determine if it is feasible to pump carbon dioxide deep into the ground of the South Georgia Rift, which "is a very deep basin filled with sedimentary rock. It's 200 million years old. It's well, well below that coastal plain aquifer" where freshwater wells are drilled, said John Shafer, the Earth Sciences and Resources Institute director at the university. (Post and Courier, 10/21/09).

If pumping into the earth below South Carolina works, it will take some effort. We find our method much easier...let the trees grow for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity! Come see our 1000-year-old, carbon-sequestering, cypress-tupelo swamp!

Image by Mark Musselman

No comments: