COUNTER INTUITIVE THINKING: USING INDOOR AGRICULTURE TO HELP REDUCE ATMOSPHERIC CARBON

COUNTER INTUITIVE THINKING: USING INDOOR AGRICULTURE TO HELP REDUCE ATMOSPHERIC CARBON

By David Ceaser

It is well known that carbon dioxide levels are rising in our atmosphere. Currently it stands at over 400 ppm and this increased carbon results in warmer ocean temperatures and fiercer hurricanes, as we have recently witnessed.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were massive storms, causing severe hardship for people in Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida and the Caribbean and likely making many of these place uninhabitable if these storms are representative of the future. Nature’s message is clear- we must do whatever we can to reduce carbon levels. If our government pretends that the problem doesn’t exist, society and industry must act on their own.

One way to reduce global carbon is by shifting cultivation of crops indoors. Yes, I know that this sounds crazy at first. How could we reduce carbon emissions by shifting the production of lettuce or strawberries indoors? After all, we will be replacing free energy given by the sun with energy intensive lights that must be powered by carbon emitting power plants.  

A different angle

We need to look at the question in a different way. We know that one of the best ways to lock up carbon is in plants, especially perennials, like trees. Trees convert CO2 into biomass and lock it up for their lifespans. Therefore, anything that we can do to lock up as much carbon as possible is beneficial.

Take a look at the two images below. Which scenario do you believe locks up the most carbon?

This crop field?

This crop field?

Or this grassland?

Or this grassland?

The more permanent biomass that we can create means that more carbon is locked up. Since grassland contains much more biomass than a lettuce field, it therefore locks up much more carbon above ground. 

Keep reading to see for yourself how much carbon could be sequestered by moving crop production indoors. 

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