Retiring croplands and switching to no-till agriculture can contribute in a modest way to reducing the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but doubling fuel efficiencies of cars and light trucks would achieve much greater results, according to two Duke University ecologists.
In an analysis to be published the week of Oct. 25, 2004, in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Robert Jackson and William Schlesinger of Dukes Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and Department of Biology examined how far "carbon sequestration" versus increased fuel efficiency would go toward a goal of reducing net U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent.
Carbon sequestration steps include adopting no-till agriculture to retain crop wastes in the soil rather than letting them decay after plowing, and retiring croplands by paying farmers to revert them to grassland or forests. Carbon dioxide has been implicated in global warming because it can trap heat in the atmosphere much like a greenhouse. "We emit a quarter of the worlds carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, even though we constitute only 5 percent of the worlds population," said Jackson, a professor of environmental science and biology who is also director of Dukes Center on Global Change.
Monte Basgall | EurekAlert!
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