Technology Works Alongside Nature to Store Carbon Dioxide

With trillions of tons of legacy carbon dioxide emissions to deal with, we have to remove carbon dioxide fast and also find ways to store it once we have pulled it out of the air. Here’s a helpful summary of common carbon offsetting projects along with information about the carbon dioxide storage that each can offer. 

  1. Renewable energy (such as wind energy) reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere - which means we have less to clean up! Carbon offsetting that supports renewable energy does not provide carbon dioxide storage.
  2. Changes in agriculture practices boost soil productivity and help increase resilience to floods and drought. Though precise storage capacity of soil is debatable, 20 to 40 years is a good estimate.
  3. Forests capture and store carbon dioxide in trees and soil. Mature forests store carbon dioxide longer than newly planted ones - as much as 500 years for a trunk two feet in diameter.  Researchers have found that carbon constitutes approximately 50 percent the dry mass of trees. When wood from these trees is used to produce wood products the carbon is stored for life in that product. For example the wood frames used in homes store carbon dioxide about 100 years, wood used in furniture or railroad ties for example stores carbon dioxide for 30 years; pallets and paper store carbon dioxide for about six years. Carbon stored in wood is released back to the atmosphere when the wood product is burnt or decays. Forests consumed by fire release their stored carbon dioxide quickly back into the atmosphere. For more on carbon storage in trees see Forest Learning)
  4. Carbon dioxide pulled from the atmosphere through direct air capture can be stored underground where it turns to stone. One carbon collector can capture as much carbon dioxide as 2000 trees, supporting the work of our natural forests. Carbon dioxide stored in stone is permanent and cannot be reversed.

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