Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Carbon Ranching: Offsetting Greenhouse Gases

Carbon Ranching is a method of 'trapping' carbon that is quickly gaining steam as a new way to reduce carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide emmisions. This article focuses on the San Joaquin Valley and the farmers and companies seeking to make their businesses profitable, but ecological. Carbon Ranching is an ecologically sound method that businesses (especially those required by CA law to either reduce business-related emissions or invest in emission reducing projects) and land owners can use to easily prevent carbon from escaping into the atmosphere. The method is elegantly simple: flood peatlands of the valley and grow a tall grass called tule. This grass can grow in oxygen deprived soil, and as it grows, it sucks carbon out of the atmosphere. Carbon that can contribute to global warming and/or ocean acidification. The flooding of the area would also help restore the land to it's original composition.

This method could prove to be useful to rice farmers, their flooding method to grow rice can also be used to trap carbon.

I think that using this method can be extremely beneficial. Companies can pay farmers to harvest carbon sucking plants like the tule to offset emissions from their businesses. Though it would be best for the company to reduce emissions at the source, that can be incredibly expensive; essentially asking the company to drown itself in improvements. I feel that this Carbon Ranching is a good middle ground, but can be dangerous if it is the only step companies take to reduce their emissions. I feel it should only be a utilized concurrently with updating machinery/practices to reduce emissions.


1 comment:

Cassidy Anton said...

If we put a value on non-agricultural plants depending on their total carbon sequestration I wonder how this will impact the perceived value of various natural ecosystems? Does a temperate forest become more valuable to companies than a grassland?