Increasing Biomass And Removing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Increasing temperatures have correlated with increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Although temperature increases are still modest, they have led to the gradual melting of Arctic sea ice, moderation of temperature in the far north and have set in motion an accelerated global warming process. We have discussed this matter at some length in previous posts.

While we have improved the efficiency of our machines and only modestly lowered the rate of increase in our use of fossil fuels, it seems obvious we will continue to use fossil fuels for some time. However, further increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are likely to further increase temperatures. This would lead to further Arctic warming and a possible host of weather changes, the magnitude and effect of which are largely unpredictable.

However, by continuing to improve the efficiency of our energy utilization processes we can reduce the rate of increase of both average global temperatures as well as the rate of increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. However, if these efficiencies can be increased enough then atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations may actually begin to decline. Why?

If we add little new carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the elevated concentrations of this gas will begin to decline as it is used in photosynthesis. As the Arctic warms increasing amounts of formation of algae photosynthesis will occur. These algae will enter a new Arctic food chain. In the north the tree line is already expanding and a new boreal forest will expand into a Savanna. These and other processes are expected to double the biomass as a direct result of Arctic warming and improved conditions for growth of plants both above and below ground mainly in the northern hemisphere.

In addition to the above process already set in motion, we should significantly reduce deforestation, begin to plant additional trees in communities and on degraded lands and advance  and improve our forestry management. Wherever new carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere it should be offset by new plantings.

In a general way we can shift to the use of renewable energy and where this is not possible, make use of biomass products which are then renewed. By combining the increase in biomass adding to the increases that are the natural outcome of carbon dioxide increases and lowering further the rate of use of fossil fuels, we can balance carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere with lower and lower additions. In effect, this may allow us to titrate the temperature of the planet to one which which is agreeable to all forms of life.


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