John Quiggin is somewhat favored by myself as a Commentator, mainly due to his pursuit of the practical within the framework of the ideological. He makes the claim in this Post that there is sufficient market flexibility to handle the social costs of CO2 emissions. John thinks that emissions trading will work, and explains his reasoning. My feeling is that the level of emissions are too widespread and large (in terms of tons of Carbon released into the atmosphere) for Carbon spread neutralization. I have probably lost my Readers with that last statement, so I will try to explain.
How many trees growing does it take to neutralize the Carbon emissions of one House furnace on a yearly basis? How about the Carbon emissions of a blast furnace of a Steel Mill? The entire Problem with Carbon comes in the fact that We are releasing tons of Carbons as emissions much faster than We are fixing Carbon by Plant growth. Scientists say We are creating a sort of Blanket around the Earth to retain Heat on the Earth surface, and a Blanket equivalent to an electric blanket set on High with the Control busted. Another way of looking at it is that We need an Air Conditioning unit for the entire Planet. The only Air Conditioner We have so far is the Carbon-Fixation process of Plant growth; again, something which can be damaged by Plant destruction in occupations like timbering for Lumber, landscaping, or forest clearing for agriculture and Housing.
Certain Rules of the Road should be recognized at this Point. Real (physical) Carbon sequestration requires an equal tonnage gain in Plant growth to make up for each ton of Carbon emission. The current rate is unknown, as no one seems to desire publication of such figures, but I estimate that it takes approximately 7.8 years of Plant growth to eliminate the Carbon emissions for one year in this Country. I also estimate We destroy about 6 years of that Plant growth before it reaches the full replacement period. Carbon emissions facilities are organized in that they are constructed to supply a steady rate of production in emissions, while destruction of Plant growth is quite individualized, but can constitute even higher degrees of tonnage of Plant destruction without regulation (note Wetlands and Wildlife legislation). The final result is that We have a massive Problem with Carbon emissions, and one that can be self-perpetuating; one should consider Plant life damage from excessive Carbon emissions.
My Solution will seem simplistic, and I have mentioned it before, but consists of the massive planting of Shrubbery along Roadways and on other Public lands. Shrubs, at least to my way of thinking, present the greatest Carbon fixation capacity available among Plant life, and are probably the most Plant-resistant to excessive Carbon emissions. They can provide a natural ‘Soft Barrier’ element to reduce Traffic fatalities, and can be maintained short enough to provide Visibility. Another desirable characteristic resides in the fact that maintenance of such shrubbery produces massive amounts of Carbon product, which when chipped can provide another source of Carbon fuel, or utilized as Roadway surfacing itself with retained Carbon fixation.
How much of a Solution can such a Program achieve? Remember I have absolutely no hard numbers here, because of lack of scientific evaluation of Potentials. Still, I imagine it would take less than 28 miles of planted Roadways to Carbon fixate equal tonnage of Carbon as is emitted by a modern Steel mill, and probably 3000 planted Roadway miles to Carbon fixate the emissions of a large City. One must equally ask how many miles of Roadway are existent in the current United States, and how many of those miles of Road ditches can accommodate Shrubbery cultivation. The final Statement must be that even a Increase of 5% of Carbon fixation in this Country would reduce Carbon emissions by tens of thousands of tons. lgl