Smoke on this! Hemp plants can help fight climate change because they absorb more than twice as much carbon dioxide as trees
- Hemp plants capture up to 16 tons of greenhouse gases annually, while trees absorb about six tons.
- Experts say this ability could help humans fight climate change
- With nearly 50 million acres of hemp, and a few hundred million tons of carbon a year on that acreage
- These plants also grow faster and need less water than other crops
Hemp plants could be the missing player in humankind’s fight against climate change, as hemp can suck carbon dioxide out of the air more than twice as effectively as trees.
Numerous studies have shown that hemp captures up to 16 tons of greenhouse gases annually, while trees absorb about six tons.
The carbon dioxide also becomes permanently encapsulated in hemp fibers that are used in a range of products – from textiles to medicines and auto parts.
Hudson Carbon, a New York think tank that studies carbon storage, found that one acre of hemp can store up to three tons of carbon, removing more than seven tons from the atmosphere.
Numerous studies have shown that hemp captures up to 16 tons of greenhouse gases annually, while trees absorb about six tons. And plants grow much faster than trees
While the United States accounts for only five percent of the world’s population, the nation is responsible for 28 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
Ben Dobson, founder and president of Hudson Carbon at Hudson, told Lancaster Farming: [the US] Do 50 million acres of hemp, we’ll sequester a few hundred million tons of carbon a year on that acreage.
Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant but has deficient levels of the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compared to marijuana, which is another variety.
The plant is “nature’s purifier,” drawing toxins from the air and trapping them permanently within its fibers, reports Pebble Mag.
It also absorbs carbon from the air as it grows, making it a carbon negative crop.
Other crops, such as cotton, need at least 1,500 gallons of water for every pound produced.
At the same time, hemp requires less than half but yields more than 200 percent more fiber on the same land, according to Rebecca Shaman, managing director at the British Hemp Alliance.
With nearly 50 million acres of hemp, and a few hundred million tons of carbon a year on that acreage, experts believe
Hemp is also an incredibly fast-growing plant, taking just four months to reach maturity.
The plant has become an important source of bioplastics, construction and biofuels.
Previous studies found that “600 million tons of [construction and demolition] Debris generated in the United States in 2018 is more than twice the amount of municipal solid waste generated.
Besides purifying the air of greenhouse gases, hemp plants absorb cancer-causing heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium from the soil, which is fine for crops used for food — but dangerous for people who ingest the plants.
Penn State researchers conducted a “meta-analysis” of previous studies examining the ability of the cannabis plant to absorb heavy metals.
They report that some strains of cannabis have been specially bred for “phytoremediation” — growing plants to remove contaminants from the soil.
But this risks heavy metals leaching into cannabis crops that are harvested and later smoked by humans, potentially causing cancer and neurological problems.