The whole problem with global warming starts with digging up and burning the carbon from plants and animals, in the form of coal and oil, that has been buried for millions of years.
So two German scientists have a solution: Start burying stuff on a massive scale.
The scientists, Fritz Scholz and Ulrich Hasse from the University of Greifswald, start with a common idea: Planting forests, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But instead of letting those trees stand (or worse burning or letting them decay so that the carbon is released to the atmosphere) the scientists have a novel suggestion. Landfill them.
By burying the trees from those deliberately planted forests, the scientists believe they might blunt the impact of global warming, or even negate all global emissions.
“For the first time, humankind will give something back to nature that we have taken away before,” says Scholz. “Whereas other environmental problems can, at least in principle, be solved by the appropriate modern technology, there are no realistic solutions for the CO2 problem.”
Disturbing soil, though, as analyses of farming and suburban sprawl have demonstrated over and over again, also releases carbon. To avoid this, the scientists suggest using old mines for their forest landfills.
One little problem with this miracle solution: The world would have to plant 3.8 million square miles of forest every year to counteract current global carbon dioxide emissions. That's bigger than the size of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii). And the scientists themselves point out that it's equivalent to all virgin forests lost in the 20th century.
That's also a lot of tree landfill space.