In a recent paper in the journal Carbon Balance and Management, Ning Zeng [at University of Maryland] calculated that if we buried half of the wood that grows each year, in such a way that it didn't decay, enough CO2 would be removed from the atmosphere to offset all our fossil-fuel emissions. It wouldn't be easy, but Zeng believes it could be done. .... Zeng's proposal is to thin forests regularly and to bury excess wood, forestry waste and even trees that have been grown specifically to be buried, in trenches between the remaining trees. To prevent the wood from decomposing, which would release carbon, it would need to be buried deep enough to avoid being broken down by soil fauna and fungi, or STORED ABOVE GROUND IN WATERTIGHT SHELTERS.
... Burying wood sounds like a lot of trouble for a small gain, but Zeng insists that unlike simple growing, this is a long-lasting and perhaps permanent carbon sink. He estimates that offsetting all the world's current emissions would be achievable with a WORKFORCE OF ONE MILLION PEOPLE, substantially fewer than those already employed in the forestry industry in the US alone. Even so, to offset all our emissions, most of the world's forests would have to run a wood burial scheme.
...Another approach to carbon burial has a much longer history. More than 500 years ago Amazonian people were creating almost pure carbon by smoldering their domestic waste and letting it work its way into the soil. This 'black earth' remains to this day. Such char can be created when organic matter is heated in the absence of air to around 350 degrees C, the kinds of temperatures reached in the Amazonian waste piles. The lack of air means the organic matter does not combust but most constituents other than carbon are driven off as gases or liquids.
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