Smoke on this! Cannabis plants can combat climate change because they absorb carbon dioxide more than TWICE as effectively as trees
- Hemp plants capture up to 16 tons of greenhouse gases annually, while trees soak up about six tons
- Experts say this ability could help people fight climate change
- With about 50 million acres of hemp, a few hundred million tons of carbon per year on that acreage
- These plants also grow faster and require less water than other crops
Cannabis plants may be the missing player in man’s fight against climate change, as hemp can absorb carbon dioxide from the air more than twice as effectively as trees.
Numerous studies have shown that hemp sequesters up to 16 tons of greenhouse gases annually, while trees soak up about six tons.
The carbon dioxide is also permanently encapsulated in hemp fibers used in a range of products – from textiles to medicines and car parts.
Hudson Carbon, a New York research center that studies carbon sequestration, found that one acre of cannabis plants can store up to three tons of carbon, removing more than seven tons from the atmosphere.
Numerous studies have shown that hemp sequesters up to 16 tons of greenhouse gases annually, while trees soak up about six tons. And the plant grows much faster than trees
While the US makes up only five percent of the world’s population, the country is responsible for 28 percent of global carbon emissions.
Ben Dobson, founder and president of Hudson Carbon in Hudson, shared Lancaster Agriculture: ‘Horrible, if [the US] 50 million hectares of hemp, we would capture a few hundred million tons of carbon per year on that area.’
Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant but is deficient in the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compared to marijuana, which is a different variety.
The plant is considered to be ‘purifying nature’, drawing toxins from the air and permanently trapping them in the fibers. Pebble Mag reports.
And it also absorbs carbon from the air as it grows, making it a carbon negative crop.
Other crops, such as cotton, require at least 1,500 gallons of water for every pound produced.
At the same time, hemp requires less than half, yet creates more than 200 percent more fiber on the same land, according to Rebekah Shaman, Managing Director at the British Hemp Alliance.
With about 50 million acres of hemp, several hundred million tons of carbon per year on that acreage, experts believe
Hemp is also an incredibly fast-growing plant, taking only four months to reach maturity.
The plant has become a major source of bioplastics, construction and biofuels.
Previous studies have shown that ‘600 million tons [construction and demolition] in the United States, debris was produced in 2018, which is more than double the amount of municipal solid waste produced.”
In addition to purifying the air of greenhouse gases, cannabis plants absorb carcinogenic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium from the soil, which is suitable for crops used as food but is dangerous for humans who ingest the plants.
Researchers in Pennsylvania have conducted a “meta-analysis” of previous studies to examine the ability of cannabis plants to absorb heavy metals.
They report that some cannabis strains have been specifically bred for ‘phytoremediation’ – growing plants to remove pollutants from the soil.
But this carries the risk of heavy metals seeping into cannabis crops that are later harvested and smoked by humans, potentially causing cancer and neurological problems.