Hemp plants may be the missing player in humanity’s fight against climate change, as hemp can absorb twice as much carbon dioxide from the air as trees.
Numerous studies have shown that hemp traps up to 16 tons of greenhouse gases annually, while trees absorb about six tons.
Carbon dioxide is also permanently encapsulated in hemp fibers used in products ranging from textiles to medicines to auto parts.
Hudson Carbon, a New York-based 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. While the United States represents only five percent of the world’s population, the country is responsible for 28 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
“Roughly speaking, if the US plants 50 million acres of hemp, we will be capturing several hundred million tons of carbon per year in that area,” said Lancaster Farming Ben Dobson, founder and president of Hudson Carbon in Hudson.
Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a variety of the agricultural hemp (sativa) plant, but contains an insufficient amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compared to marijuana, a different type.
Considered “nature’s purifier,” the plant draws toxins from the air and permanently traps them in its fibers, according to Pebble Mag.
It also absorbs carbon from the air as it grows, making it a carbon negative crop.
While other crops like cotton require at least 1,500 gallons of water per pound of production, hemp requires less than half that amount of water but produces more than 200 percent of the fiber on the same land, according to Rebecca Shaman, managing director of Hemp. Alliance British.
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.
In addition to cleaning the air from greenhouse gases, hemp plants absorb carcinogenic heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium from the soil, which is suitable for agricultural crops used for food.
Researchers at Penn State conducted a “meta-analysis” of previous studies looking at the ability of the cannabis plant to absorb heavy metals.
They report that some cannabis strains have been specifically bred for “phytoremediation” – growing plants to remove contaminants from the soil.
But it risks introducing heavy metals into the cannabis crop that people harvest and then smoke, potentially causing cancer and neurological problems.
Source: Daily Mail