Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Solving The Carbon Dioxide Problem For $0.65 Per Gallon Of Gasoline

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 10 comments


Greifswald (Germany) - German students have come up with a down-to-earth idea how to bind the global output of carbon dioxide emissions. They suggest to simply plant enough trees to absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. The question is: How many trees do you need, how much space do they need and how much will that cost?

Fritz Scholz and Ulrich Hasse from the University of Greifswald believe that the carbon dioxide problem can be buried, literally. The two students claim that "deliberately planted forests" can bind carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

Scholz said that the resulting biomass needs to "disappear", which could happen simply by burying the wood: "Possible burial sites include open brown coal pits or other surface mines. These should be filled with wood and covered with soil. Cut off from the air in this manner, the wood would not change, even over long periods. It could in principle be dug up in the future and used."

If we assume for a moment that it is feasible to bury all the wood and replant trees, how many trees would you need to bind carbon dioxide emissions? According to Scholz, about 32 Gtons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere every year. He estimates that about 2.47 billion acres of trees are required to remove these emissions - which, according to U.S. government guidelines, translates into a number of 250 to 750 billion trees (the number varies depending on the type and maturity of trees as well as their location; this example uses mature Red Maple tress).

So, how much is 2.47 billion acres? It is slightly larger than the area size of the U.S., which measures about 2.38 billion acres. The total land mass of the earth is 36,677,592,320 acres, which means that about 7% of the surface need to covered with trees to offset our current carbon dioxide emissions, if Scholz and Hasse are right. However, these estimates always have to be taken with a grain of salt, as scientists have come up with different numbers how many trees are necessary to battle carbon dioxide emissions: For example, one U.S. government source suggests that one acre of trees can handle 2210 pounds or 1.1 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Put against 32 Gtons (32 billion tons), we would need about 35 billion trees. We will leave it up to you to decide you may be right and who may be wrong.

However, Scholz and Hasse also came up with an idea how these 2.47 billion acres of trees could be financed. We did not get details whether their model includes the acquisition of land, but they claim that the project could be financed through a 65 cent tax per gallon of gasoline or a 0.4 cent charge per kilowatt-hour of electricity.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the News comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    sacre , May 14, 2008 2:52 PM
    Or maybe we can just stop emitting so much CO2?

    Jee man, A large majority of humans are not that intelligent. Always finding shortcuts, instead of fixing the real problem, may it be weight, or even CO2 emissions. "Umm, instead of cutting back, lets just grow billions of trees, yea, yea thats it!"

    Can't wait till something insane happens to this planet that teaches us a lesson.
  • 0 Hide
    nvalhalla , May 14, 2008 4:09 PM
    Ah, that's what we need! More expensive gas to solve the non-existent CO2 problem...

    Is this scientist trying to absorb all the CO2 released, or just what's released by humans?
  • 0 Hide
    martel80 , May 14, 2008 4:41 PM
    I think they meant the excess CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels extracted from under the ground, which would not exist without humans.
  • Display all 10 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , May 14, 2008 5:44 PM
    "the non-existent CO2 problem"? You need help buddy. I think this is a good idea. I'm all for initiatives that involve increasing gas prices, its a double edged sword that will also get people to drive more efficient vehicles. Seriously, people that complain about gas prices are the people with horribly inefficient cars / trucks. I drive a 20 year old honda civic and only spend about $20-30 a week on gas (and its more expensive here than in the US).
  • 0 Hide
    sacre , May 14, 2008 6:33 PM
    Actually its more expensive in Canada, we pay 1.35 - 1.50 a Litre, thats around 5 bucks a Gallon...

    I think we have more of a right to complain, lol.
  • 0 Hide
    Hellbound , May 14, 2008 7:42 PM
    Of course the reason this story even exists is because of global warming.. But I'm not buying this whole global warming crap.. This planet goes thru normal warming and cooling cycles. The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. It could be said that we might still coming off the last ice age and the planet is still warming. But dont worry, another ice age will be on its way in another 40,000 - 50,000 years from now..........
  • 0 Hide
    sacre , May 15, 2008 4:43 PM
    Wow aren't you confident with your information.

    so, the warming of the earth was more linear for the past 10,000 years, and then in the past 100 years the earth warmed about 6x faster then in the past 10,000 years? Fact is, there are billions of cars, billions of people, millions of factories, tractors, Trees are being destroyed. So, we're emitting thousands of times more CO2 and destroying what is supposed to clean it. MAkes sense to me that the earth would heat up a bit.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , May 15, 2008 5:35 PM
    The whole anti-global warming crowd just doesn't want to suck it up and make sacrifices in their lives. Or maybe they just like to be different (they're probably AMD fans).
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 20, 2008 12:41 AM
    Well I think the idea is 1/2 right. Planting and harvesting that many trees is on heck of a task. How about something a much more simple and do-able. If we buried all the plant waste for a few years.
    Grass clippings all summer. Leaves in the fall. We do this somewhat already by composting and land filing but that is not %100 sequestered.
    I am talking filling and sealing some deep mines like the salt mines under Detroit.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , May 20, 2008 5:52 PM
    Burying our biological waste seems like a temporary solution to a permanent problem.