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Carbon Catchers and Halophytes

Guest blogger Clem Samuels - Clem is a retired salesperson and lives in Minneapolis.

Pixabay Photo

I realized two things early in my adult life: 1) often times things are not as bad as they seem, nor are they often as good as they seem.  2) most problems really have simple solutions.

The current changes in our climate and the changes that are expected are bad. There is no getting around that. But is the problem as bad as we think it is? I don't think so. Are the solutions to a runaway climate as complex as they seem? Nah.

I've got two words to throw out - trees and salicornia.

Trees: We all know trees take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. The Nature Conservatory has done calculations based on current climate change information and determined that a billion trees planted by 2030 will reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 37%. 

The information is so convincing that Ireland has committed to planting 440 million trees by 2030. That's right - little Ireland. The U.S., Canada, and Russia have enough room for a trillion trees with land left over for the cities, towns, and farms that thrive now.

All those trees would have an immediate impact. Younger trees, in their first 10 years take in more carbon dioxide (proportionately) that older trees. They need the carbon dioxide for growth.

So, plant trees and reduce the effects of climate change.

Salicornia: Salicornia is a halophyte. Halophytes are plants that grow in salty water and on arid land. The plant is soy bean like in the fact it has many uses. The two most important right now are as food and as biofuel.   The plants grow in Death Valley type heat, burned out dry soil, and a regular dose of saltwater. You may have never heard of it but it has been around for long time. Some common names are pickle weed, pickle grass, and marsh saphire. It is sold in some grocery stores and appears on some restaurant menus as "sea beans," "sapphire greens," or "sea asparagus."

Carl Hodges, is the founding director the University of Arizona's Environmental Research Lab and the head of the Seawater Foundation.(link here) His expertise is growing things in odd environments.  He is currently is raising salicornia in the desert in Mexico and just off shore near the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California). They are in the midst of raising $35 million to start large scale production and research.

NASA is on board, Dennis Bushnell, head of NASA's Langley Research Center says, that seawater agriculture appears to be one of the better ways to fight climate change.

NASA is also planing to test biofuel derived from salicornia.

Retired executives from some major corporations are helping another company, Global Seawater, raise capitol. It too is involved in hypholyte agriculture.

You have heard of plans to build massive sea walls and systems to keep the sea at bay around cities like New York, London, Tokyo, and others at a cost of billions and billions. After all that is done, you still have the same problem and it is getting worse. Why not channel that extra seawater into the arid coastal areas of the world and even the Sahara desert to grow halophytes and trees. After you spend that money, you have a way to feed people, you have a non-climate warming biofuel, and areas of the world that now lie unproductive and fallow are real contributors to a BETTER planet. 

The solutions are there. What we need is the will to employ them.


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