Carbon Catchers and Halophytes

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

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.