Scaling Up the Tree Carbon Offset Solution

Nextbigfuture ‘s prior article outlined how the right species of trees and widespread drone planting of trees could offset all human carbon emissions.

How could we scale up to this solution?

The first phase is scaling up the tree planting and using faster-growing trees.

Currently, the world spends $50 billion per year to plant 9 billion trees per year and a $200 billion world lumber industry cuts down 15 billion trees each year.

Drone planting could plant 100 billion trees per year for about $6 billion per year.

Satellite analysis indicates there is room for another 1 billion hectares of forests in addition to 4 billion hectares of existing forests. There are 3 trillion trees now.

If tree planting were doubled every three years or so then over 11 years we could scale to 100 trillion trees planted each year. Ideally, these would be Emperor Splendor trees that grow faster.

The tree reaches heights of 10 to 20 feet in its first year and more than 50 feet within a decade. The tree can be harvested every 7 to 10 years, providing lumber that WTT describes as “ultra long-grain.

The wood, which resists rot and moisture, regenerates from the stump up to seven times after the first harvest. The tree grows even in poor soil. Reaching mature, un-pruned heights between 30 and 80 feet, the Empress Splendor creates shade and serves as a wind barrier. The massive leaves of this tree – which measure between 2 and 3 feet across – act as carbon sinks and provide plentiful air oxygenation and can provide nutrient-rich ground mulch.

The trees can sequester 250 tons of CO2 for every hectare.

The ramp-up of tree cutting can lag the ramp-up of tree planting by about 7-12 years.

Planting an extra 1 trillion trees on 100 billion hectares would sequester 250 billion tons of CO2 over 15 years. This would be from all of the trees getting planted in available extra areas and for all the trees to mature. The planted trees would need to be fast growth trees to achieve the timely benefits desired. This would offset one-third of the world emissions over the next fifteen years. If this was optimized drone tree planting then the cost would be about $60 billion.

We should ramp-up and make the tree cutting and lumber handling process to be lower cost and more efficient.

There should also be research on alternatives to the Empress Splendor tree that achieve the desired levels or even higher levels of growth and CO2 sequestration and grow in all of the desired countries and locations.

More plant and tree species research and more efficient and less polluting lumbering are needed to fully close the world carbon offset using trees.

Other global-scale carbon offsetting can be helped with seaweed solutions at scale. Seaweed grows at 2 feet per day. There is also iron fertilization to generate ten million ton plankton blooms which can take 10-40% of the mass to the bottom of the ocean. The blooms can be generated in weeks.

Written By Brian Wang,