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Can Salt Help Solve the World Climate Crisis? UC Berkeley Researchers Say It Can

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"We’re claiming that proper engineering can solve 100% of the climate crisis, at (a) manageable cost.” — world-renowned physicist and engineer Eli Yablonovitch. (Shutterstock)
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Salting and burying biomass crops in dry landfills could economically capture greenhouse gases for thousands of years and avoid a global climate disaster, concludes newly published UC Berkeley research.

“We’re claiming that proper engineering can solve 100% of the climate crisis, at (a) manageable cost,” said Eli Yablonovitch, lead author and professor in the Graduate School of UC Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.

“If implemented on a global scale, this carbon-negative sequestration method has the potential to remove current annual carbon dioxide emissions as well as prior years’ emissions from the atmosphere,” added the world-renowned physicist and engineer.

The researchers, whose work was published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, propose growing biomass crops to capture carbon from the air. The harvested vegetation then would be buried in engineered dry bio-landfills.

This technique is called agro-sequestration. With the help of salt, it suppresses microbial activity and staves off decomposition. And, that results in stable sequestration of the biomass carbon.

‘Invaluable New Option’ for Climate Change

Hugh Helferty, co-founder and president of Producer Accountability for Carbon Emissions, a nonprofit committed to attaining global net zero emissions by 2050, sees great promise in this proposed solution.

“Agro-sequestration has the potential to transform temporary nature-based solutions into permanent CO2 storage,” Helferty, who is not involved with the study, told Berkeley News.

“By developing their approach, (study so-author Harry) Deckman and Yablonovitch have created an invaluable new option for tackling climate change.”

Read more at Berkeley News.

Miscanthus is a fast-growing grass that can be used as a biomass crop or harvested, salted, and buried to sequester the carbon it took in from the atmosphere. (Shutterstock)

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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