Adding about 10% more global forest using Empress Splendor trees would offset all of the CO2 generated by human civilization each year. The US and Canada have 3.2 billion acres of forest (1.3 billion hectares).
Forests cover 31 percent of the world’s land surface, just over 4 billion hectares (10 billion acres). This is down from the pre-industrial area of 5.9 billion hectares. We can plant and grow trees on an additional 2-3 billion acres without removing buildings and other construction.
Each acre of most tree species can capture and store 1.1 to 9.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year but an acre of empress trees can absorb 103 tons of CO2 per year.
Empress trees provide hardwood lumber in 7 to 10 years. The World Tree Carbon Offset Program is taking planting the Empress Splendor tree. The Empress tree is a wet wood which makes it naturally fire and insect resistant. It is a non-invasive, hybrid species, that can grow in many parts of the United States and Canada, where its primary use is lumber.
Planting 30% more forests in the US and Canada using Empress Splendor trees would offset all of the global CO2 problem.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
56 thoughts on “Empress Trees Are The Best Tree to Solve Global Carbon Dioxide Problem”
Trees like this and grasses like bamboo grow very rapidly so sequester a lot more CO2 than a pine or Oak. Moso bamboo can sequester more carbon in 10 years than pine or oak can in 30 years, and can also be processed into much better and stronger materials that can lock that CO2 into a structure for 100’s to 1000’s of years.
Except that’s not completely true. Have you researched the massive algae blooms that sequester CO2? Or how plants grow better with height CO2 concentration, they can convert more CO2 to Oxygen and grow faster. Additionally, forest fires don’t kill all the plants, and many times when they burn the underbrush it allows more and stronger underbrush that filters more Co2
Look on the bright side. The “forest” pictured is one you could rake…
The problems with forest fires are that is a closed loop that goes on and on.
Because heating of the planet there are more forest fires. Forest fires heat the planet and pump co2 into atmosphere. The next year the temperature is even warmer, so there are even more forest fires and even more c02 is pumped into the atmosphere. Of course planet heats even more and looses the capacity too cool itself and get rid of co2. Even if you plant new trees the next year is even warmer. Even larger forest fires appear and just decimate the forests, warm the planet even more, pump more co2 into the atmosphere, the effect stacks,… And it goes on and on stacking on top of it leading to more catastrophic future, the next years are just catastrophic with total decimation. Seems more logarithmics scale than linear.
And because the average temperature is warmer, plants have difficulties to adjust to warmer temperatures. They are just not made to exist in warmer conditions. Plants become less resilient to diseases, they can’t thrive in new warmer environment and begin to DIE. So we have a MASS EXTINCTION EVENT. So even more capacity to remove co2 from atmosphere and cool the planet is removed. It just gets worse and worse and worse and stacks,….Gets HOTTER and HOTTER and life begins to die outl.
I don’t think climate models can predict such stacking and so many different factors, it looks very bad if you ask me, people should act now.
It is all the same issue. We grow plants for food and fiber…and we remove it. You see them taking fertlizer for trees? No, they are not.
No one is fertlizing trees in the US…unless you count relieving yourself in the forest.
Trees get their nutrents from deep in the ground generally. How do you plan to get those nutrients down there?
If you just put some fertilizer on the ground you are just going to get a lot of brush blocking you from harvesting your trees.
So, you support David R. Criswell’s Lunar Solar Power!
This isn’t about food. Clearly, tree plantations will need fertilizer to keep growing.
If it removes 100 tons of CO2/yr/acre, who cares about anything else?
The facts speak for themselves. The tree soaks up 100 tons of carbon per year per acre. Got something better?
Not the variety they use for this.
I don’t care what lives there. I want climate change to be mitigated.
DED and AD are not relevant to monoculture Empress Tree plantations. DED was caused by a foreign fungus and AD by a foreign insect. Empress Tree is not invasive.
In the big picture, ecosystems do not matter any more if there is gigantic climate change because they will all be destroyed anyway. Planting large areas with Empress Tree will allow native ecosystems outside of those plantations to survive.
The tree is not invasive.
If you are going to grow oodles of trees, cut them down, and move them, then you are going to deplete the soil of minerals. If I recall you get about 30 generations of trees before you make the soil incapable of growing more…unless the tree can decay or burn right there. The carbon is not a problem as there is plenty in the air, but the rest of those minerals are lost.
Much better to grow stuff in the ocean like phytoplanction and giant kelp. Most of our nutrients are being flushed into the ocean. We grow food which contains minerals extracted by roots from the soil, we harvest them removing them from the soil, then we eat them, and flush those minerals down the toilet and out to the ocean.
We have to start processing human and animal waste, as well as wood/paper waste and return the minerals to the soil.
If we grow trees and allow them to rot, then we really have a problem as we would be making methane which is a much worse greenhouse gas. And that happens not just because trees are not harvested but because the harvested lumber decays as well, demolition in landfills, sitting around, paper in the landfill…
If we are serious about taking carbon out of the air with trees, then we need to char them, separate out the carbon and return the rest of the minerals to the soil.
And you probably need to pull the whole tree out of the ground.
We also have to consider habitat. Not everything was forested, there are grasslands, and other stuff…animals that thrive there.
Well, *all* are not required to agree with me. It would be hopeless if that were true. We can start with 200 TW-e from LSP, go from there with the profits.
A lovely vision, but I’m sure all would agree, it’s an extremely unlikely one and for the foreseeable future.
No one have been able to detect higher greenhouse effect as function of higher level CO2 in the earth atmosphere.
If level over 300 ppm gave higher greenhouse effect it would give a signal in the wavelength of 15µm there only CO2 act as greenhouse gas.
But desert cool the planet for the fact that out radiated energy increase with the power of four to the temperature.
Look earth water vapor and understand why Sahara radiate 16% more energy than it would have done if the region was covered of thick forest.
How much lower would the global average temperatur been if not:
But we live in an ice age, 5C higher global temperature is what takes to create the more life friendly climate before.
From the studies I read that runs just over $100 per tonne to do.
And Carbon Engineering is already cheaper than that
“Closing of the bridge financing round comes just over a month after the firm released research showing that its Direct Air Capture technology – demonstrated in CE’s existing pilot plant – can capture CO₂ from the atmosphere at scale for less than USD$100 per ton.”
Sure, biochar it.
Read up. Perfectly practical for those, and in fact used all the time there. Cheap, mass production of genetically superior clones – that’s the way to go.
The fast growing variant of the species used on tree farms only grows in southern US and a sliver of Canada, it can’t grow across canada.
Direct from Rita at World Tree to me in an email:
Yes, some Paulownia species will survive in colder climates, but not the super fast growing varieties we plant in our program.
— so Canada is not an option sadly I have a field and a sawmill 7 years to lumber is appealing aside from global benefit of 130 tons of carbon per acre per year.
Not a bad tree for coppice production. That’s tree farming, not forest creation.
Empress has naturalized here in NC. Competes with native stuff, not much of a mast producer.
Good point on disease using a single species. I would say the main takeaway on the article is that a biomass solution (using multiple promising species) is able to solve the CO2 issue. Taking a look at the planet’s carbon cycle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle and you can see that the carbon intake from land based plants is ten times that of man made CO2. Since we control such a large portion of land based plants through agriculture and forestry then this is a serious ace in the hole. Just improving the CO2 sequestration rate (as in permanent storage of the CO2 ingested by our farming and forestry) by a mere 20% and the global CO2 issue is solved. Combine this with new nuclear, wind, solar, grid scale batteries, electric cars, space based solar power and significantly improved efficiencies in all aspects of energy production and use and we will have to soon be concerned with reducing the CO2 too much.
The article specifically says it is a hybrid, which is a combination of more than one species usually through cross pollination and usually means that its seeds are not fertile (thus not invasive via that route) and the plant puts all of its energy into growing (and sequestering CO2) rather than reproducing.
It’s still an Asian variety, it just doens’t spread invasively.
Turn it into charcoal and bury it.
CO2 is presently a problem. Depletion of CO2 is the aim. We can always make more if we need it down the line, we’re really good at it.
Not particularly practical for the third world countries with the most space for these projects.
It is considered invasive…
Sounds like poplar.
If you click on the different coloured text it will take you to the source.
Oh, these are Paulowinias? I was a little miffed that I’d never heard of the “Empress Tree”.
Dad tried growing Paulowinia. They did grow fast, but they were fairly brittle and easily damaged in storms. Then they grew sideways and crookedly. I’m sure they sucked up lots of CO2 but the trunks weren’t suitable for timber.
You could probably do it if you had nice weather or used lots of wind breaks.
I think you should regard NBF articles as the spark to start you thinking, and the comments help, greatly . If you are not interested just move on to the next subject, if yes, do a little research. Don’t expect a website to spoon feed you.
ome years ago people were pushing a Paulonia plantation in Australia as an investment scheme, although I haven’t heard anything about that recently. They probably went down the drain like most of those schemes.
Although technically a hardwood (flowering tree), it’s a very soft hardwood, probably somewhere between balsa (another “hardwood”) and pine. This is to be expected because of the very fast growing speed. It means there must be a limited range of applications that the timber could be used for. At the time they were talking about things like picture frames and door trims.
This proposal, and others like it, is a good way to sout the wheat and the chaff from the environment movement; to make distinctions between those who are serious about addressing the issue of CO2 emissions and those who greenwash their ulterior motives.
I agree with you. A monoculture is very fragile. I do believe in planting more trees but it should be a variety suitable for the environment they will be planted in.
Thanks, I was unaware that there was a north american variety.
Lol exactly. It does a great job at that for sure. It is just those pesky unintended consequences…
In the context of a mass production tree farm that is used to say gasify biomass into methane for an Allam plant where they are then carbon captured, they do have a lot of promise, yes. Encouraging them to grow wild wherever they’ll grow seems to have a lot of unintended consequences other than just CO2 sequestration.
EDIT: From Agua-viva’s comment below “Apparently it is only the sub-species Paulowlnia tomentosa that is invasive. The big organizations pushing this wood use Paulownia fortuneii. They claim this species is not invasive.” You might have tomentosa.
Turns out I was wrong; the tree I see everywhere is Catalpa Speciosa and it looks very much like this empress tree, but is originally from the Midwest USA.
You missed the bigger – biggest flaw in this article:
– complete absence of source quotes.
this isnt a “tsk tsk” situation.
its an absolute fail – in both journalism as well as editorialism. it completely undermines any credibility of this site, and implicitly undermines the user comments – which us a crying shame!! the reader comments here are fantastic and encourage HEALTHY, PRODUCTIVE debate on a topic in dire need global attention(this probably an understatement).
** NOTE TO EDITORS **
Please require, check and validate sources of all articles.
Thank you !!!!
And kudzu will prevent erosion!
Planting any tree forest, no matter the species, to sequester carbon, isn’t anywhere as easy as saying it can store so many tons per year. A tree grows slowly, a little more each year. In its first couple years it has no more leaves and no more capability to sequester than does a twig on a full-grown tree. It takes a decade or more for the tree to be absorbing what you estimate as the tons per year of this tree. You have to wait a decade. You can’t just say it will absorb all that every year.
Also, in the long run, planting trees does no good at all in terms of carbon sequestration, unless those grown trees are all cut for lumber before they die naturally and give their carbon back to the air. If you don’t harvest them all, they will all die pretty much at the same time and devastate the atmosphere over several years. And even if they are all harvested, that wood has to be kept from rotting perpetually or it will eventually circulate back to the atmosphere and will have done no good at all. It will only have made people feel good about things in the short run.
Who would have thought that we don’t need to invent expensive global carbon sequestration machines, that hundreds of millions of years of evolution already built them ?. /s
Mr. Wang, you could at least have mentioned the scientific name, to begin with.
Secondly, one tree species can impossibly be a global solution. Numbers please.
Something is very wrong with this article. I had one of those trees in my yard, and it is not native to north America but China. They grow insanely fast, you can cut them down and in three years they are back to their original size. They can spread through both seed and root, and once you have made the mistake of planting one of them it is almost impossible to get rid of it. But a positive is that it produces the best carving wood I have ever used.
CO2 is not presently a problem.
Depletion of CO2 during glaciation is a problem.
From wikipedia: “its seeds are easily killed off by soil fungi. In fact, it is so difficult to start Paulownia by seed that successful plantations purchase rootstock or seedlings” – doesn’t sound like something suitable for “mass production” to me.
Our goal is to unload our needs from the planet, then leave entirely, visiting Earth as a park for Nature. Not a farm to absorb our pollution.
(edit: the picture of the trees speaks volumes. Want to visit that forest? What lives there?)
Silly compared to LSP:
Unless you can build rockets out of them trees!
I’m not against these sort of things, AS LONG AS, they are not keeping real solutions from being considered as much.
(edit: plant groves of these in ~1km dia circles, then use some of them to support rectennae for SSP/SPS/LSP actual solution to global heating)
Apparently it is only the sub-species Paulowlnia tomentosa that is invasive. The big organizations pushing this wood use Paulownia fortuneii. They claim this species is not invasive.
Article claims this tree is not invasive. It is invasive. The branches are gnarly and brittle. Flowers are pretty, prolific seed pods are useless and go uneaten. These are everywhere in NJ and nobody planted them. Chinese import; probably originally ornamental.
The big flaws in assuming one type of tree can solve all our problems lie in two major areas:
Disease – look at Dutch Elm Disease, and Ash Dieback in the UK. You’re lucky to find elm any more, and it looks like ash will go the same way in the next 30 years. Introducing this tree globally increases the risk of some kind of bacteria, insect, fungus, etc. rising up that absolutely decimates our global stock.
Ecosystems – native trees in local ecosystems have symbiotic relationships with the aforementioned bacteria, insects and fungi. They won’t all adapt, and there will be biodiversity losses. These will have knock-on effects up the food chain, to birds and mammals.
These trees are all well and good for North America, but elsewhere in the world there need to be others found.
This is quite amazing. And the lumber can then even be used to build wooden skyscrapers, another interesting emerging trend. Building high-rises with captures CO2, now that sounds really promising.
Comments are closed.