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Planting a Tree is almost entirely symbolic.... or aesthetic...

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by nwdiver, May 17, 2017.

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Don't Cheat; Upgrading a '60w' bulb to LED saves ~50lbs/yr... what does planting a tree do?

  1. ~4 lbs/yr

  2. ~12lbs/yr

  3. ~36lbs/yr

  4. ~108lbs/yr

  5. ~324lbs/yr

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    Generating 1kWh emits ~1.3lbs if generated from natural gas and ~2lbs if generated from coal

    Something as simple as swapping out a 60w incandescent bulb can easily save >50lbs of CO2 emissions per year.

    An 8kW solar array ~20k lbs of CO2 per year.

    What do you think planting a tree does?

    This is a quiz not a poll... please take the 'quiz' before reading this thread ;) Curious to see how common this knowledge is...
     
  2. Derek Kessler

    Derek Kessler Member

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    Is this the average tree? Because I've got both a monster 120-year-old oak in my back yard and a little 5-year-old dogwood
     
  3. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    So at the recent climate march in Seattle the emphasis seemed to be more on planting trees and 'social justice' than it was on actually addressing the issue of climate change. Don't get me wrong.... trees and social justice are great... but they're not going to stop physics from dramatically altering our planet.

    The answer to the question I posed isn't completely simple and 3 of the 5 responses could technically be correct... the AVERAGE is ~10-15lbs of CO2 per tree per year. But even that isn't simple. The CO2 isn't removed from the biosphere... it's still there and can be easily released by a forest fire or rot when the tree dies. If it's used to build a house that house could one day be torn down or burn down again releasing the 'sequestered' CO2.

    There are sequestration technologies that could work and we might need... but planting trees isn't going to be one of them. Planting a tree is cute but the immediate focus needs to be on a rapid transition away from fossil fuels...
     
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  4. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    #4 nwdiver, May 17, 2017
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
    Yeah... average tree... average annual 'sequestration'

    So for your 120 year old tree imagine its dry weight then divide by 120 and multiply by 3.7 to convert C to CO2... AAAND cut that in half since <50% of the dry weight is carbon...
     
  5. kingjamez

    kingjamez Member

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    I was at the one in Washington D.C. a couple of weeks ago. It was disappointing to say the least.

    More social justice than anything else, really watered down any potential message about climate. I was there with my young daughter and saw more "F*%K Donald Trump" and "My Body My Choice" signs than I did anything else. That kind of march helps no one and only hardens the other side.

    The way to win over the current U.S. administration is to make economic arguments, which are plentiful.... don't know why that tactic isn't dominating right now.

    -Jim
     
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  6. Sharkbait

    Sharkbait Member

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    #6 Sharkbait, May 17, 2017
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
    My SolarEdge stats indicate about 17lbs/year but that could be on the high side. Too many variables to calculate exactly, like species of tree, age, size, leaf density, etc. My 6.6kW system over the last 34.5 months supposedly offset 52,879.91 lb of CO2, the equivalent of 1,331.85 trees planted, or supplied enough power for 103,484.98 light bulbs for one day. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the wattage of the bulb or how many hours the bulb would have been on. Interesting trivia I suppose. Offsetting nearly 27 tons of CO2 over three years is the most meaningful stat for me.
     
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  7. macpacheco

    macpacheco Member

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    #7 macpacheco, May 17, 2017
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
    We need to figure out how to commercialize a solution that employs that Ethanol production with just 1.2 volts of current, water and CO2 as prime materials and cheap catalysts. Instead of fixing carbon, directly offset oil consumption.
    The ultimate solution to climate change isn't to scrub the CO2 already in the atmosphere back into the soil, but rather stop fossil fuel burning. Once no more coal/oil/gas is being burned, the earth's natural CO2 absorption process takes care of remedying the situation. Plus a fossil fuel replacement like Ethanol can be stored by the billions of gallons in huge tanks for gradual consumption.
    The fundamental problem is there is no process to stop countries from burning more and more coal. They get to burn it for ultra low cost (cheap oil/coal/gas) and we have to come around and fix their mess ?

    Planting trees to reverse climate change would require more trees be planted than we have available spare surface, if coal/oil/methane burning continues to increase at the same time.
    Maybe if we master the process of mass scale deep multi level hydroponics and move crops from single layer to dozens of layers, with specialized LED lamps producing optimal light levels 24x7. In normal environments, plants go from using CO2/making O2 in the day to consuming O2/making CO2 at night (off course the net balance is still O2 production), but with 24x7 daytime agriculture, CO2 can be absorbed faster. During day time, more lamps would be kept on, at night less lamps, but enough to keep photosynthesis making more O2 than the plants need.
    Energy could come from solar/wind+batteries or nuclear.
    This is the sort of solution the nuclear people strongly suggest since nuclear in naturally baseload, can run all day. Please don't flame me because nuclear is too expensive. Current nuclear is useless, it must be much, much cheaper nuclear coming up in the next few years. Let's NOT repeat the MSR discussion already had on nuclear specific boards.
    Also medium/high temperature nuclear can directly produce the heat for desal to make fresh water for extensive vertical agroponics.

    I'm not a botanist / agronomist. I'd love if a real professional in the area enlightened us further on the viability of such things. Of course you have to assume that solar and wind are going to get cheaper and cheaper.

    Well but why not just EVs ? The reality is we need to approach it through every angle. Ramping up EV production to 100% of worldwide numbers is 2 decades away or more. A Tesla Model 3 is still out of reach in prices to 3/4 of the world's car owners. In countries like India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Pakistan, ... A US$ 30k car is way, way too expensive. Our typical car here in Brazil costs R$ under 50000 / US$ 16k. Plus at least 90+% of our cars produced in the last 10 years already can take the ethanol, and the USA/European car industry already have this solution off the shelf for low cost mass production. The sole challenge is to produce ethanol in large enough scale to directly offset gasoline. Plus its not an all or nothing thing. Here in Brazil our gasoline is already 25% ethanol and we don't go for 30 or even 35% ethanol mix due to insufficient ethanol supply. The USA already uses 10-15% ethanol in their gasoline, with abundant ethanol this could migrate to 50% ethanol before EVs take over !
     
  8. macpacheco

    macpacheco Member

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    How about growing wild grass or some other fast growth plants, cutting it down, burying it deep and planting again. Will it fossilize ? Or does the advent of termite means for all intents and purposes no more mineral coal is being made (plants that are fossilized become coal, animals/bacteria become oil/gas reserves) ?

    I think the answer is, no dice, but I would like to be sure anyways.
     
  9. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    IIRC the consensus on how most coal formed is essentially that cellulosic plants evolved millions of years before micro-organisms that could use them as a food source.

    Now that we have those critters in abundance there's essentially no more coal formation. Dead plants usually just rot.... fossilization doesn't sequester carbon... that's the process of replacing organic matter with minerals.
     
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  10. HVM

    HVM Savolainen

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    I have planted ~30,000 trees so what I win? (I bet any Canadian/Northerner, who owns forest land, have planted lot more) And if you want
    geoengineer the climate, it's needs to be done at sea.
     
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  11. macpacheco

    macpacheco Member

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    The fact is planting trees does help in the short term. You are removing many tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, until they either are burned, die and rot or something else.
    If we could plant one billion trees, lets assume they'll all live 100 years. From a geological perspective 100 years is the blink of an eye (vs Earth's 4 billion year life).
    But from a short term, lets avoid climate change in a pinch, they could fix climate change IF we could at the same time at least reduce our global emissions by 80% or more.
    The fundamental problem is CO2 emissions are still rising. No mater how much China/India/USA/Europe is investing on Solar and Wind, are least up to a few years ago, they were still massively increasing their CO2 emissions. The whole Paris climate change agreement was not a binding commitment to fixing climate change but solely a statement of good intentions, where everybody claims they'll try. The Europeans likely will accomplish it (because they have rising popular demand to fix climate change), while Trump rips the deal of and even tries to keep the coal industry alive, China invest billions on solar+wind, but not enough to even reduce its coal consumption, India does the same, and we cannot ignore that there's still one major continent in the world that isn't true even in the developed world, Africa. Except for a handful of truly developing countries most of Africa's population don't even have access to energy and no mater how much we hope they'll start from scratch with solar+wind, the tendency is they adopt whatever is cheaper, which is still coal.
    The bottom line for a mostly USA perspective is not even Hillary was serious enough about climate change, any truly, realistic approach to mix climate change would have to:
    1 - Give Tesla at least a US$ 20 billion dollar zero interest loan to have them build at least 2 more Lithium/Model 3+Y giga factories in the USA, at least another 2 solar giga factories
    2 - Give the NRC an ultimatum, you have 2 years reduce the cost of nuclear regulation by 2/3 or you will be shutdown and replaced wholesale with a brand new agency. The biggest objection will certainly come from the coal+gas interests
    3 - Give a dozen US$ 10 million grants to nuclear startups and universities with the most promissing nuclear projects on Gen IV technology
    4 - Cut all R&D credits to energy companies for any fossil fuel technologies, R&D credits must go 100% towards renewables or nuclear power
    5 - Get serious about replacing natural gas consumption for process heat with medium/high temperature nuclear. There are essentially zero nuclear construction projects for reactors able to produce heat good enough to make hydrogen, ammonia, DME (clean drop in replacement to diesel), that project the US Navy had to make jet fuel aboard nuclear carriers directly from H2O+CO2+nuclear heat
    6 - Get serious about ethanol, specially cellulosic ethanol and ethanol production from electricity+H2O+CO2 which was discovered about an year ago
    7 - Get serious about fuel cells. Fuel cell policy has been 99.9% driven by $$$ influence from fossil fuel companies and traditional car makers. In order to keep their funding they have to actually provide a realistic plan to produce half a million FCVs in 5 years, and if they fail to achieve that goal, they must return the funding back to the government, either put up or shut up ! I would hope they would simply give up and we can then consider fuel cell cars DOA. Perhaps H2 can be made and stored in huge tanks to be converted back into electricity months later in those windless winter nights.
    8 - End all subsidies on solar panels and redirect those towards energy storage only. Solar is already cheap enough.
    9 - End all forms of subsidies to purchase of renewable energy products. The USA government should only give subsidies to USA produced equipment (either purchased by USA customers or exported). It makes no sense to fuel the China renewables production boom that exports jobs to China, produces material with filthy electricity, irresponsible environmental practices in general
    10 - Give China an economic ultimatum, we are going to tax all of your exports if you don't quickly clean up your emissions, not only you produce way too much CO2, but you also allow large scale burning of coal in small furnaces which generate way too much carbon particulate and directly emits all sorts of coal produced poisons that kill way too much of your people. That ultimatum wouldn't just go to China but also to India, Bangladesh and every other country that has been profiting from semi slave labour, lax environmental laws and lack of respect for their local population well being. There's an estimate that half of the smog in California is a result of China CO2 emissions !
    11 - Institute a serious nuclear fuel reprocessing program by taxing Uranium mining high enough reprocessing becomes economical. At the same time, forcing the NRC / DOE to stop making the nuclear industry uneconomical would help a great deal on the cost side.
    Of course Hillary would never, ever have the balls to do this. My hope would be Bernie, but even him I'm not 100% sure !
     
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  12. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    This is EXACTLY why I am trying to get the book published on Driving to Net 0 - Stories of Hope for a Carbon Free Future. I am hoping people like you (hint :)) can help show others how we can get there and still live a good life while slashing carbon use.
     
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  13. HVM

    HVM Savolainen

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    Oh no some kind of symbolism going on here.
    Image2.jpg
    Ah, all Aesthetic...
    263928-jpg.jpg
    266825-jpg.jpg
     
  14. Ulmo

    Ulmo Active Member

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    I like trees for their ability to turn Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen. However, I'm always interested in a fuller description of the inputs and outputs of trees, especially the types that have meaningful relationships with the environment. (For instance, if shrubs play a big role, I'd like to know, and if they play a small role, I'd like to know, and if someone is discussing a tree that is basically a glorified shrub, then that seems pertinent.)
     
  15. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    Planting trees very much necessary for the production of lumber ;)
     
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  16. Ampster

    Ampster Member

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    The timber companies like Warehauser do a pretty good job of that in the USA. That is not the case in Brazil and others.
     
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  17. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    Yep... planting new 'forests' is not the same as preserving the existing ones...

    In Washington there are areas where the land is 'private' but it's required to be used for forestry. By law you can't clear more than a small percentage for your home and the remainder must be maintained as a 'working forest'. This allows the timber industry to have the resources available to continue producing lumber while preserving areas like Olympic National Forest.

    Slightly different case in Brazil though... they generally want to clear trees to raise cows not more trees :( One of the reasons I no longer eat beef....
     
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  18. ziggytrace

    ziggytrace Member

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    Planting trees is one of the easiest and most sustainable ways to positively affect the environment. Trees improve air quality by producing oxygen. They also store carbon, offsetting harmful byproducts of fossil-fuel burning. how trees make a difference? Benefits of Planting Trees - Why Planting Trees is Important
     
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  19. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    #19 nwdiver, May 19, 2017
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
    The 'O2' in 'CO2' has to come from somewhere. Burning fossil fuels removes oxygen from the atmosphere... displacing CO2 is no different than metabolizing it and releasing oxygen with a tree...

    It's almost entirely symbolic ;)

    A single solar panel does the work of ~40 trees. One large wind turbine is the equivalent of >3 square miles of forest. Not that I'm a fan anymore due to it being so absurdly expensive... but a single nuclear plant does the work of ~800M trees....

    The fact of the matter is that until we get our fools fuel addiction under control planting trees isn't much help... there's value in preserving forests ecologically but the evidence suggests that expanding forests likely has a net negative effect since grassland has a higher albedo than forests.

    We'd need to plant and grow a forest larger than Africa every year to net out our CO2 emissions from fossil fuels... which needless to say isn't possible...
     
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  20. macpacheco

    macpacheco Member

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    Yes, in some areas Brazil sucks. Except most of our grid is big hydro, and our usage of Ethanol in a % basis is much higher than USA. And we can keep adding solar and wind to our grid without being forced to retire fossil baseload plants for inefficient peaking plants without any need for powerpacks, because since most of our grid generation is big hydro, we have all load following resources we need.
     
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