As global warming continues to escalate the concerns of today’s scientists, the federal government has been spending millions in research in an attempt to reduce greenhouse emissions, the substance that has been credited with the increase in planet temperature since the beginning of the 20th century.
Greenhouse gases—largely comprised of carbon dioxide— is a product of burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Automobiles, home heating systems, and factories are just 3 examples of large contributors to the greenhouse gas problem on our planet. The United States is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, according to a story published in the Reuters News Service.
The Bush administration has vowed to spend up to $90 million on programs designed to reduce greenhouse gases and power plant carbon emissions, in an effort to reverse the global warming trend.
A 40 page report produced by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change cited that reducing greenhouse gases by removing them from the air would be as cost effective as developing new energy technologies. It does not consider, however, the long-term effects of dwindling fossil fuel reserve.
Through a process called carbon sequestering, the study attempts to address the possibilities of using vast expanses of forest land to absorb and store carbon dioxide, eventually returning it to the ground in the form of harmless carbon at the end of the tree’s life cycle.
According to the Pew report, here is the size of the problem: the US Energy Department reports that the United States alone produces an approximate 5.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Removing just one-fifth of this annual emission would require nearly 148 million acres, or an area the size of Texas, and cost more than $7 billion each year to implement, according to the Pew report.
It is unclear from the source article as to whether this is in addition to the trees presently in the U.S., but seems to imply that it is.
The report listed several factors that could affect the success of carbon sequestration projects. Pressure from alternative uses of the land and development of technology that could measure the amount of carbon removed were two examples.
And finally, the Pew report stated that it was vital for the US government to persuade the private sector to become involved in the carbon sequestering technology in order to achieve success, due in large part to the funding and resources that would be needed. Some incentives included special payments and tax credits to participating entities.
Tom Clouser is a 38 year old farmer in Pennsylvania. In addition to farming, he and his father publish a monthly 16-page newspaper called “Trees ‘n’ Turf”, which targets subjects of interest to those in land use industries and activities. View their website at http://www.clouserfarm.net