Monday, February 12, 2007

Carbon Sequestration Problem Solved

Richard Branson, a British tycoon, is offering a $25 million prize to anyone who can develop cost-effective technology for capturing and containing atmospheric carbon dioxide. So, while the rest of you envision elaborate energy-sucking machines to capture carbon dioxide from the air and sequester it, I’ll make my own modest proposal.

Plant hemp. Okay, okay! Legalize it first, then plant it. Plant it everywhere. In yards and gardens, in fallow fields and freeway medians, on clear-cut hillsides, beside rivers and streams. Plant it across America and around the world.

Why hemp? Because hemp is carbon-capturing-and-sequestering technology that already works. When it comes to photosynthesis and carbon dioxide absorption, hemp is one of the most efficient plants known to man. Hemp produces more than four times as much biomass per acre, over a score of years, than do trees. Few plants outside of a South American rain forest grow faster than hemp. And few plants are as useful.

By integrating hemp into our agricultural model, we can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, improve human health and nutrition, grow our own clothes, preserve old-growth forests, build more energy-efficient houses, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and develop a sustainable economy while saving the environment.

So, Mr. Branson, now that I’ve accepted your challenge and proposed a viable method for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, will you be sending me a cashier’s check for $25 million, or should I bill you via PayPal?