Posts tagged ‘Saran Wrap’

More on Burying Christmas Trees

A few weeks ago I argued that if we really thought that CO2 was the biggest threat to the environment (a proposition with which I do not agree) we should not recycle paper or Christmas trees - we should wrap them in Saran Wrap and bury them.  Earlier I wrote this:

Once trees hit their maturity, their growth slows and therefore the
rate they sequester CO2 slows.  At this point, we need to be cutting
more down, not less, and burying them in the ground, either as logs or
paper or whatever.  Just growing forests is not enough, because old
trees fall over and rot and give up their carbon as CO2.  We have to
bury them.   Right?

I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek, trying to take CO2 abatement to its illogical extreme, but unfortunately the nuttiness of the environmental movement can outrun satire.  These folks advocate going into the forests and cutting down trees and burying them:

Here a carbon sequestration strategy is proposed in which certain dead
or live trees are harvested via collection or selective cutting, then
buried in trenches or stowed away in above-ground shelters. The largely
anaerobic condition under a sufficiently thick layer of soil will
prevent the decomposition of the buried wood. Because a large flux of
CO2 is constantly being assimilated into the worldas forests via
photosynthesis, cutting off its return pathway to the atmosphere forms
an effective carbon sink....

Based on data from North American logging industry, the cost for wood
burial is estimated to be $14/tCO2 ($50/tC), lower than the typical
cost for power plant CO2 capture with geological storage. The cost for
carbon sequestration with wood burial is low because CO2 is removed
from the atmosphere by the natural process of photosynthesis at little
cost. The technique is low tech, distributed, easy to monitor, safe,
and reversible, thus an attractive option for large-scale
implementation in a world-wide carbon market

Its a little scary to me that I can anticipate this stuff.

Christmas Tree Recycling

Most cities offer Christmas tree recycling, which for most people just means they haul the brittle, dried-up skeleton of their tree back onto the roof of their car and dump it in some big collection area.  The city then grinds up the trees and uses them for mulch, and infinitely more elegant solution than burying them all in a landfill.

Or is it?

If I were to care about limiting CO2, wouldn't I advocate for wrapping all of those trees in Saran Wrap and burying them in the deepest hole I could find?  Decaying Christmas tree mulch will eventually give up its carbon back to the atmosphere as CO2, or, theoretically worse, trace amounts of methane.  Aren't the holidays a perfect opportunity to sequester all that carbon underground?  While global warming catastrophists argue that young, growing forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere, what they do not mention is that older forests do the opposite, as new tree growth has flattened out and older trees are dying and decaying.  If we really wanted to sequester carbon via forests, we would cut down all the old growth forests and bury the logs, while planting new fast growing saplings.  While no one would advocate for such an approach, the next best approach is to cut down lots of trees and build long-lived houses out of them.