The Climate problem we have is about 750 billion tons of excess CO2 in the atmosphere. We have 417 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 versus 285 ppm in 1850 before the industrial revolution. 135 times 5.5 billion tons is 742 billion tons. We are also adding about 40 billion tons of CO2 per year from human activity.
China is planning to have over 2 million hectares of greenhouse buildings by 2025 with mechanized-automation of farming. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs issued a guideline to promote the country’s facility-based agricultural planting, outlining goals for infrastructure upgrades and mechanization to boost output and farmers’ income. By 2025, China will maintain over 2 million hectares of facilities, including plastic greenhouses, and achieve above 50 percent mechanization for facility-based planting, a sector of the so-called controlled-environment agriculture (CEA), or protected agriculture.
The world already has about 500,000 hectares of climate-controlled greenhouses. China has 4 million hectares of crude plastic sheeting covering land in partially enclosed conditions. The plastic sheets lie over simple metal poles and crude framing.
Alibaba sells greenhouses for as little as 70 cents per square meter. The bulk, high volume cost to the manufacturer is about 50 cents per square meter. If installation labor costs are 50% of the 2 million hectare project then it would cost about $20 billion for the 2 million hectare project. $40 billion would be sufficient for China to make 40 billion square meters of climate-controlled greenhouses which could produce all vegetables and crops. It would cost $260 billion to make greenhouses for the food production of the entire world. China has 103 million hectares of arable land. China will use an area that is 2% of its farmland to provide half of the crops, vegetables and fruit for 1.4 billion people. Six times this is enough for half of the food needs for everyone on earth.
Indoor climate-controlled agriculture has almost no need for pesticides and uses 7% of the water. This would take up 3-5% of the total land area of open-air farming.
The US has about 900 million acres of farmland and 1.2 billion acres of ranchland.
In 2017, researchers at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) have pieced together a map using Landsat satellite imagery with 30-meter resolution that identifies every plot of land under cultivation around the globe. The map shows that 4.62 billion acres are being farmed globally, which is 15 to 20 percent higher than previous estimates.
The world currently has 9.9 billion acres of forests. U.S. forests cover over 741 million acres.
US forests for producing lumber can generate 40-100 tons per year per acre. If the wood is not burned then it is sequestering carbon.
47.5% of the dry matter of a tree consists of carbon.
China is demonstrating greenhouse farming at a national scale.
Feeding half of the their population from greenhouses. This is more than double the US population.
If the US did the same and half of the farmland is converted to growing trees. This would be 450 million acres. If this could be done globally this would be over 2 billion acres. 450 million acres would be 45 billion tons of wood per year. This would be 22 billion tons of carbon per year.
Trees could be selected either for wood or certain trees have wood that sinks in water. Dense lumber could be placed into the ocean or lakes.
There is an economic analysis of smaller scale greenhouse and vertical farming. The all-in delivered cost of a pound of greens grown in a commercial greenhouse is estimated to be $2.33 per pound. It cost $18.3 million to build 280,000 square feet (2.6 hectares) of commercial greenhouse in the USA. The total cost to grow would be just over $3.0 million per year for 2 million pounds of greens or $1.52 per pound. BrightFarms employs 165 people for the three greenhouses. $1.10 per pound consists of employee costs.
The cost estimates for greenhouses could be brought down to $1 per pound or less with large-scale construction. Below are costs for 2.8 hectare systems in the USA.
There is value to having national food security and not having to depend on imported food. Ten billion to twenty billion dollars per year in indoor farm subsidies closes the cost gap with open-air farming.
China’s controlled environment system will have a lot of automation and lower construction costs because of the massive scale and lower costs in China.
It will be easier to track the growth of new forests on farmland.
Greenhouses built in cities can provide fresher food to restaurants and consumers. The French Laundry is a three-star Michelin restaurant that has its own garden for farm to table food.
We can have better food, fresher food, food grown closer to people, cheaper food, more water (only using 7% of current farming), farms resistant to weather, bugs etc…, no pesticides on food and solve global warming cheaper and faster.
Current proposals are to get the US 4.5 billion tons per year to net zero around 2050 to 2060. The greenhouse – tree plan removes all of the excess CO2 (750 billion tons) and net zeros the world CO2 by 2030 and we get more and cheaper food.
Previous proposals to grow a trillion trees did not identify the proper land to grow the trees. There is also the current problem that existing forests are not properly managed against wildfire. Converting farmland will solve the political and economic aspects of needing farmers to transition to a useful purpose with the rise at scale of greenhouse farming. This method will be over a hundred times cheaper and faster.
Other Background Info
What is considered a big goal is to halve US climate emissions by 2030. This would be a reduction of about 2.2 billion tons per year. This is hundreds of times less ambitious and more costly than this proposal.
SOURCES- Brian Wang analysis, Agfundernews, USGS, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affair
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
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.
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