Herbie Girardet Explains His Support for ecosequestrust
We live on a planet out of balance. Currently we release 10 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and the earth can only absorb ½ of that. This is causing climate change and a great variety of man-made disasters.
To stabilize global temperatures, carbon emissions must ultimately not exceed what can be absorbed by the earth’s vegetation, its soil and the oceans. How can we enhance the Earth’s capacity to absorb carbon while our growing, predominantly urban population demands ever more natural resources?
In 120 years human populations have grown 5 fold, but resource consumption has grown 20 fold; 7 billion currently, 9 billion by 2050, 75% living in cities, ½ living below the poverty line
Cities currently operate as linear systems. Resources flow in and out with little concern about where they come from and where wastes end up. This linear approach is utterly unsustainable.
Fossil fuels extracted from rock strata, refined, burned, -waste gases flow into the air. Raw materials processed into consumer goods and end up in the rubbish. In forests trees are felled for their timber or pulp-and not replenished. Nutrients and carbon are taken from farmland as food is harvested, processed and eaten. The resulting sewage – with or without treatment is discharged into rivers and coastal waters polluting them with toxic waste.
Since the industrial revolution we have put more and more carbon into the atmosphere by burning coal, gas and oil. At the same time we have damaged soils and destroyed forests, reducing the earth’s capacity to absorb surplus carbon. This IS the central issue that the Ecological Sequestration Trust will address – how do we enhance nature’s capacity to absorb carbon while restoring the world’s ecosystems at the same time?
We need to move to a closed system that takes its inspiration from nature –where waste does not exist. Every output by a living organism is also an input which replenishes the whole environment. On a rapidly urbanizing planet, we need to copy the ecology of natural systems to assure our own long-term viability.
Our, modern cities depend on vast inputs of energy, and while much of this will come from renewables – such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal – coal and gas-fired power stations will be in use for many years. The Ecological Sequestration Trust proposes that the carbon output from these power stations can help to restore the world’s ecosystem while we transition from fossil fuel dependence to renewable energy systems.
The Ecological Sequestration Trust proposes a fully integrated, urban-rural system based on algae farms and anaerobic digesters as a viable, alternative option. One of the Trust’s proposals is that we build large-scale algae farms next to power plants and use their CO2 emissions to feed them. Once we have grown and harvested the algae, which takes only 2 DAYS, we input them into an anaerobic digester that breaks down the organic material and outputs:
-Biogas for electricity
-Biomethane for heating, cooling and vehicle fuel
-Compost to restore nitrogen and phosphorus to soil
On our nutrient rich soils we can grow organic food for the surrounding community, and also trees which will absorb more of the excess co2. We can also reclaim the water we have used to grow the algae to create healthy drinking water for the local community.
Basically the Ecological Sequestration Trust demonstrates the advantages of a closed system with zero waste. The systems benefits are three-fold; creating an affordable energy source while we transition to other renewables; capturing and absorbing carbon out of the air; and creating community benefits through local food production. At its core, the Ecological Sequestration Trust rebuilds natural ecosystems by putting carbon and nutrients back where they belong-in living matter. Now isn’t that a good idea.
The integrated urban – rural resource use model we propose links to wider initiatives of reforestation and soil restoration now being undertaken across the world. Here, in the headwaters of the Yellow River in China, large scale reforestation has minimized soil erosion and greatly improved the living conditions of local farming communities, as well as storing millions of tons of carbon every year.
Collectively we can integrate all of these approaches into one productive holistic system, linking cities with their local regions and areas beyond.
Scientists have warned us about the consequences of climate change for many years, but we have not responded adequately. Now we are facing a triple crunch: we are heading towards food, energy, and water emergencies at the same time. The solutions we propose are very ambitious and will be expensive. But in reality they may be our only option – if life on earth, and human life, is to have a viable future. In conjunction with energy efficiency and renewable energy, eco-sequestration offers tremendous opportunities for creating a resilient world: one in which we can look to the future for the worlds children, not with anxiety, but with confidence.