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,

31 thoughts on “Scaling Up the Tree Carbon Offset Solution”

  1. Most trolls only know "left" or "right". There is also (among many other directions), up and down. That being said, your vaunted right myopically denies climate change.

  2. That video does have a map of existing trees, but says nothing about planting new trees and where they could be planted.

  3. The time frame trees grow on is a couple of decades. The fastest timescales for projections of a “greenhouse disaster” are also in decades. So it seems like a good match to me.

    Whether there is enough available, well watered, land is a different question. (Which is why I think mangrove and other oceanic species are worth a look.)

  4. Dad grows plantation timber. He has trialled Pawlonia and there wasn’t much market for the wood.

    Now this is to some extent path dependence. Because not many people grow it, it hasn’t been widely available, so people haven’t used it, so there isn’t much market.

    But this applies to all sorts of stuff. Sometimes a market does develop when it becomes available, and sometimes a market does not. You end up with 20 tonnes of brussel sprout icecream left unsold.

    “If you build it, they will come” is line from a supernatural fantasy, not a general business rule.

  5. You want government price fixing on all IP?

    Since when has price fixing worked? All it does is result in IP generators spending more and more of their effort on lobbying government and less and less on actually coming up with good, new, ideas.

    And what problem is IP price fixing supposed to be addressing?

  6. Brian, do we have any estimates of how many trees are naturally planted each year? Here in North Carolina, if you clearcut a section and do nothing, come back ten years later, it will be covered with seven, eight and nine year old pines.

  7. Start now making easy 0nline cash from $18,000 per month to $20,000 per month by doing very simple j0b 0nline. Last month my 0nline earning was $19536 just giving this j0b 2 hrs a day. This home j0b is just awesome and regular earning from this are amazing. Now every person on this earth can get this and start earning 0nline by follow details on this website…………

  8. if we would just go nuclear (MSRs preferably)

    Then there would be energy abundance and people would have even more spare time to ask questions. Look what I have found on Internet: “The ITER management tried to keep the Madia report secret…” They will not show you such stories even on the Fox News channel. Government R&D is inefficient. The only thing governments must do is to control that no one uses intellectual property without paying authors fair share [1] of its cost and the authors do not exaggerate those costs. Then non-government investors would be more efficient, because they want profit as fast as possible. Though I would sell my stake in this particular test fusion reactor probably. There are other more cheaper alternatives (like Tokamak Energy’s or LPPFusion’s one).

    [1] Fair share of IP costs for a consumer is a ratio of the quantity of products which have been made using that IP and then delivered to the consumer to the quantity of all products which has been made using that IP.

  9. Just about everything is an invasive species in some locations, while perfectly natural in others. Don’t mistake your own local conditions for a world wide rule.

    And ugliness is in the eyes of the beholder.

  10. “The left” is doing a LOT of work in your comment.

    “The left” could be interpreted as 50% of the population. I’m not going to agree that 50% believe as outlined. And anyone in that 50% is likely to interpret your comment as a personal attack on their motives and so ignore your points.

    Now if you rephrase this as “significant parts of the left” or even better “prominent opinion leaders in the left” or something then you’ll have a much more robust argument.

  11. I only mention wood quality because the wood has to be used for something. Otherwise it will rot and release its carbon. The only conceivable use for that much wood is lumber for building. High rise wood construction is becoming a thing. For example An 18 story mass timber building was recently completed in Vancouver. And an even taller one in Norway

  12. The quality of wood is less relevant than the CO2 storage speed. although I am not aware of problems with the wood quality.

    $60 billion for 250 billion tons of CO2 over 15 years. 25 cents per ton of CO2. Way cheaper than the $80-500 per ton of many other plans. This would also close the gap on regular sequestration. Producing 40 billion tons of CO2 but only leaving 10.3 billion tons in the atmosphere each year. So 15 years for 250 billion tons would get us down. Instead of 440 ppm we would be at 390 ppm in 2035. Down from 410 ppm now.

  13. The world already plants 9 billion trees per year and spends $50 billion per year doing it. 15 billion trees are cut or die each year. Plant growth already sequesters 30% of the CO2 emissions.

    This proposal is to take what already works and boost it by ideally 10 times.

    The cost for the first 250 billion tons involves no cutting and would involve scaling up planting by hand to $150 billion per year using current methods to get to 27 billion trees per year. China has 6 massive tree planting programs. Other countries have large programs as well.

    Selection of more optimal trees for the purpose of storing CO2. The cost drops to $6 billion per year using the drones. Biocarbon engineering has been funded and is planting already in Myanmar and Australia and other places.

  14. To what extent could such fast growing plants be used for biofuels? We should use nuclear for electricity generation & to some extent battery powered vehicles can replace petroleum use, but for running airplanes we need the high energy density of a hydrocarbon. How expensive would synthetic jet fuel be if it was made from wood chips & hydrogen split from water using nuclear power?

  15. Seriously, the left does not want a solution to climate change – at least their politicians – because it creates the ultimate FUD. They need that fear to shift more power to the state. The elites still get their private jets and mansions while preaching to the unwashed masses how terrible we are for the planet.

    Reducing CO2 would be easy peasy if we would just go nuclear (MSRs preferably) and start fertilizing certain areas of the ocean. Economic win, environmental win. Folks like me who are conservative would be all for it… but again a real solution is not what the left wants. They want power, not the electrical type.

  16. It could be a partially-overlooked tool, but among many others.
    Potentially, there’s plenty of solutions that, alone, could “solve” climate change if only… they could scale by a factor of 100-500x. Nuclear technology, ocean fertilization, aggressive use of CSS technologies, the Green New Deal, nuclear fusion etc…
    In real world scenarios, once you start to scale up a solution a whole set of emerging problems (unknown unknowns) pops up: geopolitical matters, shortages (of previously thought abundant materials), unintended consequences and so on.
    To ignore all this real world issues and just intend that this single one solution can easily scaled up and “fix” climate change is naive at best: disrespectful for readers intelligence at worse.
    As it is the article feels shallow and ultimately pointless: some nice ideas in it but the lack of objectivity and mentioning of potential real world issues from scaling up makes it looks like nothing more than wishful thinking.

  17. Was looking in the NBF article to see where this 100,000,000,000 hectares of land is. It doesn’t seem to have been identified. I’d plant by hand if I knew where. Brian?

  18. ‘..If all climate activists knew physics..’
    Ah, those happy days forty million years ago, when we all lived in the Garden of Eden. It’s a crying shame that since then, we’ve built most of our cities on what would have been well under the sea then, and come to depend on crops that are, you know, adapted to what the weather’s like now ( or what it was like forty years ago, maybe.)
    Mind you, my mega-greats ancestor told us it could get a bit rough back then – if the temperature at the poles is around 20 C, there’s a lot of heat flowing up from the tropics, and one of the most efficient ways of moving heat is hurricanes. But that’s just family hearsay…

  19. That’s why they’re not peddling the tomentosa variety. According to their literature you can use the wood for quite a lot of things, furniture, boats, instruments, etc…

  20. Pawlonia tomentosa is consider invasive species,…
    Slow growing trees are much higher quality as fast growing ones. What will peope do with all that low quality wood? You can’t build houses out of them,..
    And they are ugly.

  21. The only areas where lots and lots of new woodland is to be expected are the cool areas of the Northern hemisphere. Russia might do it in the previous Tundra, but it’s not interested in fighting warming.

    That’s why I think the woodland approach to fighting climate change is mostly about Canada, Alaska and a little bit Iceland, too.

    The addition of woodland (or generally trees) elsewhere will likely be meant for other purposes, such as firewood, recreation, soil protection, quality of life in cities.

    I suspect underwater flora will be more important, but the public doesn’t pay much attention to sequestration, and certainly not to underwater carbon sequestration.

  22. Ha! At first glance, I thought the person in the photo was holding some giant new CO2 absorbing vegetable!

    But where would we plant 1M sqkm of trees? Obviously Brazil doesn’t want them, as they keep cutting them down…

    Possibly in the US we could replace the corn ethanol program fields with tree farms. Won’t provide the full 1M sq km, but it’d be a good start.

  23. What’s the story with soil depletion at this scale? Can you fertilize enough, and maintain topsoil enough, to support tens of generations of trees?

  24. Plant as thick forest all over the planet and we get out of this ice age and get 10 C higher average global temperature as it was some 40 million years ago.

    Or just over most continents except Antarctica and get 5C warmer global climate as it was for 2,6 million years.

    If all climate activists now physic and no one was so hard core science denier all fear for a warmer (less temperature differences when out radiate energy increases with the power of four to the temperature) global climate will go away.

    Desert cool the global climate for the high surface temperature in its days.

Comments are closed.