Capturing up to 20 tons of carbon per acre, cannabis has the ability to sequester carbon directly from the atmosphere.
People everywhere are talking about reducing CO2 emissions but the current discussions often fail to address the issue of ever-rising levels. Sequestering carbon dioxide through phytoremediation is the only real solution and our Vision is to capture 420 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year. Many governments are finally recognizing the benefits of phytoremediation and over 30 countries have formed an alliance called 4 Per 1000 (unfortunately Canadian and US officials have yet to get on board.1)
Hemp is an ideal choice for atmospheric remediation because it is fast growing, has deep roots and is unaffected by the toxins it accumulates from the soil and air. With industrial cannabis, we are talking about taking the carbon directly out of the atmosphere – tons at a time – up to 20 tons per acre, year after year. Cannabis is a "C3" plant which captures carbon from the atmosphere and as CO2 levels rise, the plant gets bigger – up to 44% larger. Cannabis sequesters up to 35% of its total mass in the soil which puts the carbon back into the soil, where it belongs, and keeps it there for decades.
From EcoWatch: “As climate talks concluded, climate activists took note: soil restoration is our ally in the fight against global warming. It is inexpensive, effective and easy to implement…besides capturing carbon and reversing desertification caused by severe drought, soil restoration enhances regional cooling, strengthens resilience against droughts and floods, and improves food quality.
“France has introduced a program called “4 per 1000” calling for a yearly increase of 0.4 percent in the amount of organic matter in the world’s agricultural soils. (This) modest increase in soil carbon globally would be sufficient to offset global greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on how quickly the agricultural community responds, the atmospheric level of CO2 could be kept from rising to levels uniformly viewed as disastrous.” 2
CannaSystems has been advocating for the use of cannabis as the ideal plant for phytoremediation for decades and we are glad that governments are finally listening. But if world governments don’t start working on this process now, it may come too late.
From Wikipedia: "Phytoremediation is a cost-effective plant-based approach to remediation that takes advantage of the ability of plants to concentrate elements and compounds (toxic heavy metals and atmospheric gases) from the environment and to metabolize various molecules in their tissues.” 3
“Phytoremediation first appeared on the CannaSystems radar after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. An article in a science journal stated that an un-named plant was being used to draw radioactive particles out of the soil to clean areas around the site. Turns out they were using cannabis for its ability to reach deep into the ground and collect heavy metals in the foliage above for disposal. What is even far more fascinating is the idea that cannabis can be applied to phytoremediation of the atmosphere as well.
“Cannabis can use CO2 at 3 times atmospheric levels. It exhales oxygen. Plants simply grow larger and faster as the CO2 levels rise. The process stores up to 35% of the entire bio-mass in the soil in the form of roots. Better yet, cannabis can be grown on marginal or "ruined" farmland where other crops do not grow very well. Cannabis can grow where the land has been over farmed, over fertilized and the top soil ruined. This stuff will grow in drought conditions where all else fails or requires heavy irrigation.
“There is nothing quite like cannabis. Bamboo grows quickly in tropical environments but not so well in temperate zones. Algae may come close, but it's not nearly as much fun. Sucking the carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere with plant technology is just so elegant.” From the article “Cannabis Phytoremediation” by Bruce Ryan, Founder of CannaSystems
“My somewhat radical Vision still beckons: 85 million hectares (214 acres) of cannabis growing globally – a bit of land about the size of Texas. Yet this is not even a significant portion of the two billion hectares of productive land that are degraded worldwide. This is an area larger than South America or twice the size of China. Worse, 500 million hectares of this is abandoned agricultural land.4
“The benefits of preventing land degradation and reversing it are far greater than the gains from degrading new land year after year. Planting half of this abandoned land with cannabis would generate huge benefits. The objective is to capture 420 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year.
“This has the potential to create 64,200,000,000 lbs of food/seed AND 1,712,000,000,000 lbs of fibre/core for manufacturing products. A full third of that vast tonnage is stored in the soil as root mass, thus enriching the farmland and, at the same time, reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers and helping restore the bio-sphere through agriculture. It’s a small Vision, one that our future, as a species, may depend upon in the immediate future. As a goal, this Vision of 214 million acres of cannabis is achievable within five years.” From the article “Vision of the Coming Cannabis Storm” by Bruce Ryan
As of October 2017 a very rough – and probably low – estimate of worldwide production is 500,000 acres of hemp. This estimated number does not take into account the acres of marijuana being grown worldwide. So, for the sake of this article, let's say there is 1 million combined acres of hemp and cannabis growing in the world today. Could be 2 million since China alone planted one million acres of hemp in 2017 (400,000 hectares.)
Clearly, we have a long way to go. We suggest writing your government officials and passing this article to everyone you know who is concerned about climate change…with the suggestion that they contact government officials as well! It took millions of people to do damage to our planet and it’s going to take millions to help heal it. Time is not on our side in this fight. Become one of the millions who help heal.
1. 4 per 1000 - http://4p1000.org/partners
2. EcoWatch - https://www.ecowatch.com/michael-pollan-its-time-to-put-carbon-back-into-the-soil-1882130034.html
3. Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytoremediation
4. Land Degredation Neutrality Fund - http://www.unccd.int/Lists/SiteDocumentLibrary/Publications/2015_ldn_fund_brochure_eng.pdf