From: David Drexler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Lion Kuntz <email@example.com>
Sent: May 12, 2000 12:52:49 AM GMT
Subject: Re: Carbon Sequestration vs Cycling
Thanks for the clarification on the carbon seq. I am an old time farmer and tree farmer and never
quite understand how the soil could hold such amounts of carbon.
Trees are mostly carbon. And are a long term solution . But eventually the tree either dies or cut
made into a product.
I have had recent discussions with the Au. about carbon seq. They place trees high on the list for
carbon seq. Paulownia is perhaps the highest on the list according to them. The big leaves
sink lots of CO2. And I can grow them to a forest with a closed canopy in three summers growth.
Thanks again for the clarification.
Lion Replies to David:
I hope you have access to the WWW part of the internet and can visit the websites I selected in
three postings yesterday. There was a short quote from the text of the webpages to illustrate what
to expect when you visit them.
I am not familiar with the tree "Paulowinia". In general fast growing things are shorter lived and
decay faster, meaning they cycle their carbon back to the atmosphere faster. Carbon is not the
problem, but "Atmospheric-Carbon" is the cause of bad weather effects in climate altering
contributions of greenhouse gases. Getting the carbon into bodies is desirable. Trees do the best
job of protecting the stored carbon for long periods of time. Some species living within a couple
hundred miles of my present location have stored their cylinders of carbon for over 3,000 years,
protected it from decay and return to atmospheric circulation.
Carbon in humus in the soil is particularized. That means it has maximum surface area to support
microscopic decomposers and consumer organisms who exhale the CO2 into the air for recirculation.
Plants will temporarily impound that CO2 into living tissue, which will be circulated by the food
chains of producers, conmsumers, and decomposers, eventually returning back to atmospheric. This is
a fairly short cycle of hours to maybe a couple of years between being impounded by a plant
breathing in carbon-dioxide and some cell breathing out carbon-dioxide. It should be noted that
plants consume CO2 for photosynthesis in the daytime and exhale Oxygen, but by night they breathe
Oxygen and exhale some CO2. This is of critical importance in aquaculture where O2 levels can be
depleted below the survival level for cropfish overnight during heat spells.
Anaerobes will turn the carbon into methane, which is an even worse greenhouse gas than CO2. This is
what goes on in the deeper layers of the soil where Oxygen is scarce. Both carbonized particles and
methane can be sequestered in the soil if it is buried deep enough. In fact, that's where natural
gas comes from, imprisoned in deep strata below. Natural gas is a mixture of methane, pentane,
butane, and assorted other hydrocarbon gases sequestered for eons being released during a carbon
Strangely enough, governments are paying megabucks to laboratories to find ways to sequester carbon
while subsidizing the mining and release of fossil carbon, while subsidizing the clearing of forests
for subdivisions, industry or agriculture. One such laboratory, the Sandia National Laboratory in
Los Alamos, New Mexico, recently obtained one of those large contracts, but will have difficulty
fulfilling it, as the apocalyptic wildfires turned it into atmospheric carbon yesterday. The
Apocalypse comes to one person at a time. The whole world changes for the better one person at a
I recently [helped] dismantled a building, salvaging 50% of the cedar lumber for reuse. It had stood
tall in the tree perhaps for several hundred years, maybe even a thousand, then stood in a building
for another 90+ years. The carpenter ants and mildew/dry-rot ruined half of the building, which went
to become mulch (beauty bark they call it in the landscape trades here), and will soon be decomposed
to atmospheric CO2 in a few years. The salvaged lumber might go for another 90 years (but I doubt
that long with today's shoddy building practices), before it too ends up as beauty bark.
The reforestry practices practically guarantee that the site logged for the building's lumber was
not reforested with cedar, but instead was planted in douglas fir. Doug fir does not have the
longevity or the rot resistence of western red cedar, so the lumber since grown has since been
harvested and has also since rotted away in the ninety years gone by when this building was
constructed. Even the modern pseudo-forests are not sequestering carbon like the original old-growth
forests did, and the modern buildings are not sequestering carbon like the old timber did.
I have posted webpages describing how to be 4 to 12 times as productive per acre of land, using
human (and other life) energy instead of fossil hydrocarbon energy. With human energy we have a
problem of too much of it sequestered in McJobs, while with fossil hydrocarbon energy we have a
depleting supply being sequestered as CO2 in the atmosphere. Strangely enough a system requiring
heavy mechanization and heavy energy conversion to CO2 is called "no-till". It seems like it is
tilling a lot of buried Carbon up into the air to me, and producing one fourth to one sixteenth as
much food as human beings can do without all that much fossil fuel.
Strange how the human mind can live in a state of denial against all scientific evidence you can
bring to them? It does not matter how many webpages I cite to show the overwhelming weight of
knowledge is supporting the facts as I present them.
Drop by the webpages on microfarming to see how to get 10,000 more heads of lettuce using raised
beds instead of rows, or 100,000 more heads of lettuce per acre/year if you use several suggested
changes instead of just the one of replacing rows with beds. The address is:
Sincerely, Lion Kuntz
OLD STUFF BELOW =================================
Lion Kuntz wrote:
> Carbon Sequestration
> Much discussion on CARBON SEQUESTRATION seems to have misunderstood the difference between
> short-term carbon-cycles and long-term carbon removal from the ecosphere.
> Some hundreds of millions of years ago one of the great die-offs or mass extinctions occurred. The
> plant and animal life was killed off in such massive quantities that perhaps 90% of all living
> beings died roughly simultaneously. Even bacteria must have been affected, because the remains
> not dispersed by (micro) life but accumlated as asphalt, coal, gas and oil deposits.
> Archeologists identify this time with the name "Caboniferous Era", which is a rather appropriate
> name. The carbon compounds making up the previously-living bodies of this ecosphere was
> "sequestered" out of the cycles of use and reuse of carbon compounds in the remaining living
> With mining the Carboniferous compounds, and burning them into the atmosphere, an entire ecosystem
> of carbon is being returned into circulation on top of the normal carbon in perpetual cycling.
> fossil carbon plus the perpetually recycling carbon of the living ecosphere is causing the
> "greenhouse" gases accumulation to levels causing climate changing consequences.
> The closest approximation we can reproduce of this long-term sequestration is in old-growth
> where over 90% of the trees are dead carbonaceous matter covered by a thin venier of living
> Increases in big long-lifespan forest trees is the only meaningful method of sequestering large
> quantities of carbon out of circulation from the atmosphere.
> What is being discussed as "carbon-sequestration" in no-till agriculture is a meaningless quantity
> by comparison of the constant infusion from fossil sources. Ten inches of topsoil cannot sequester
> the quantities of carbon that can be impounded by tall trees of mature forests.
> The "carbon-sequestering" in soil is the inert residue of "dead humus". The definition of species
> the reproductively successful matching of close DNA parents, but an equally correct definition is
> the uniqueness of proteins manufactured by the DNA. DNA, after all, can only make proteins.
> Some unique proteins cannot serve as digestible foods by any form of life, and these "skeletons"
> accumulate in the soil as "dead humus" of no nutritional value for any form of soil-life. "Living
> humus" on the other hand is consumed in faster or slower rates by the decomposers and consumers in
> the micro-herd of the soil, and is constantly replenished and consumed.
> Carbon Cycling
> As opposed to "sequestration", carbon is merely stored for short (or shorter) intervals in the
> before being returned to the living ecosphere. This temporarily idle carbon is returned to the
> atmosphere in time periods of minutes to months, rarely ever in time periods measured as long as
> years. Such portion of it as is eroded and lost downstream is not sequestered any more than that
> portion remaining tied up in soil particles still on dry land. Both forms are still in the food
> chain webs and will find their way back into atmospheric circulation.
> Whatever merits or demerits "no-till" agriculture has to offer, "carbon sequestration" is not a
> significant factor.
> If a non-scientifically inclined lay-person wished to get a better understanding of the long-term,
> versus short-term, cycles of the GAIA planetary system they might read James Lovelock's books
> [especially HEALING GAIA]. Although he has been severely criticised (mainly because of the hairy
> hippies who have adopted "GAIA" as a sort of druid religion) his chemical principles and logic
> never been challenged.
> Whatever good Steve Groff is doing with his no-till system, it is not significant in making
> contributions offsetting the reductions in forests or the insertion of massive quantities of
> carbon. It is time to change the subject away from token and insignificant contributions, and
> examine the rates of introduction of carbon, and the rates of long-term sequestration.
> If carbon sequestration is a goal to be accomplished, than the progress in reforestation of the
> Earth at a rate fast enough to match the introduction of fossil carbon is mandatory. Since trees
> not impound carbon quickly, and they take decades to grow once planted, the goal must be to stay
> ahead of the rate of fossil carbon release by decades.
> In order to free-up lands for reforestation, agriculture must get very much more productive, so as
> to shrink down the amount of space required. Up to three-quarters of the United States is devoted
> Agriculture, and the equivilent of the continent of South America represents the global
> agricultural-sequestered lands.
> Rearranging the chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic is not going to change the overall large
> picture: two whole ecosystems (the CARBONiferous and the modern era) worth of carbon are being
> released with no mechanism to sequester the fossil influx at any meaningful rate. The discussion
> must leave meaningless token gestures of saving cupfuls of "dead humus" per acre per year. I have
> doubts that Steve Groff sincerely believes that he is doing a good service in no-till agriculture,
> but an audit of Steve Groff's farm might show differently.
> Most all ammonia-based Nitrogen fertilizers are derived from natural gas or distilled from coal.
> fossil-carbon release byproducts of manufacture of the synthetic fertilizer used on Steve Groff's
> farm might easily exceed the teaspoonfuls of carbonized skeletons of dead humus buried in the top
> few inches of soil. The mechanized tractors required to no-till the land consume their gasoline or
> diesel fuels at rates undoutably larger than is sustainable by the atmosphere or the climate, even
> if they might be narrowly sustainable examining only the issue of soil fertility.
> I am not accussing Steve Groff of any bad things. As an example he is head and shoulders higher
> most other participants on SANET who actually describe their growing systems. He is even closer to
> J.I.Rodale's defintion of a natural organic farmer in the book "PAY DIRT" published in 1947.
> in that book says such things as "if you do what I am recommending you will not have to spray
> SO MUCH". [That is not an exact quote: I lost my copy of the book last winter so I have to recall
> from memory.]
> The problem is: if Steve Groff is the best example of agricultural productivity and TOTALLY
> sustainable practices, than we as a species are pretty much doomed, because, as MISHA can tell
> the ecological footprint of each of us is trodding the life-support system to death. When GAIA
> we all die. Being sustainable means: making a living, not killing the soil, not harming the
> customers, not killing the world. Any single one of these missing spells failure.
> Now I am not out to start a feud with Steve Groff. I am not singling him out for criticism. I am
> making myself a target for the hate-filled letter-writers looking for any target of opportunity. I
> am trying to get the discussion out of wheel-spinning in the mud where it is stuck, quibbling over
> teaspoons of carbon "sequestered" in the soil while actually spilling gallons per hour in the air.
> Sincerely, Lion Kuntz
> LionKuntz@aol.com, LionKuntz@email.com, LifeSaviors@nav.to
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