Feb. 21 Webinar to Focus on Harnessing Photosynthesis to Address Climate Change

Feb 12, 2024

Climate change is evident through catastrophic fires in Canada and the western U.S., deadly heat waves in the South, and floods across the mid-Atlantic. According to organizers of an upcoming Penn State Extension land-use webinar, the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human systems are already tragic and worsening. This session will explore harnessing photosynthesis for a carbon-negative bioeconomy.

Presenting the 75-minute webinar at noon Feb. 21 will be Tom Richard, professor emeritus of agricultural and biological engineering in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

While wind, solar and energy efficiency contribute to emission reduction, these solutions only can achieve zero emissions at best. With ongoing, significant fossil fuel use, many experts contend, the world needs negative-carbon strategies.

Throughout history, humans have relied on plants for food and fiber but have been slow to realize the crucial role plants can play in addressing the climate challenge, organizers said. Every year, plants remove 10 times as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as all fossil fuel emissions combined.

Photosynthesis is a 3-billion-year-old biotechnology that uses solar energy to collect and dilute carbon dioxide from the air and concentrate it into high-carbon, energy-rich materials. The carbon that plants capture can be stored in soils and ecosystems; can be manufactured into construction materials, furniture and bioplastics; or can be stored safely deep in the earth.

By 2070, the world will need to draw down as much carbon dioxide as residual fossil fuels emit. Scientists note that many pathways exist to achieve this, including biofuels and bioelectricity, coupled with regenerative agriculture and forestry to generate the required biomass.

Pennsylvania and the surrounding region are blessed with abundant forests and productive agricultural lands, organizers said. Recarbonization through a growing bioeconomy can provide opportunities for sustainable agriculture and forestry, they added.

In this webinar, Richard, who also formerly directed the Institute of Energy and the Environment at Penn State, will explore how agriculture, food and forest systems — supported by land-use policies, technology development and knowledge sharing — can form the foundation for a bioeconomy with the potential to drive regional economic growth and play a significant role in solving the climate challenge.

“Harnessing Photosynthesis for a Carbon Negative Bioeconomy” is the second webinar in Penn State Extension’s Winter/Spring 2024 Land-Use Webinar Series. The series is aimed at informing municipal elected and appointed officials, planners, landowners, farmers, and community organizations about land-use issues and decisions in their communities.

All webinars are recorded and available for future viewing. Other programs in the series include:

— Jan. 17: “A Case for Communities to Drop Parking Minimums” (recorded).

— March 20: “Defining Nature’s Worth From a Health and Economic Aspect?”

— April 17: “Norris Square Community Profile: A Process for Community Engagement, Capacity Building and Equitable Development.”

— May 15: “Green Infrastructure Planning for Healthier, Resilient Communities.”

The cost of the webinar series is $50 for all five sessions, or $95 for all five sessions for those who want to receive AICP certification-maintenance credits from the American Planning Association. The cost also is $95 for all five sessions for professional engineers needing PDH credits. In addition, registered landscape architects can receive continuing-education credits for a fee of $65.

For anyone interested in a particular topic from the series, individual session registration is available for a fee of $15 per session. Those needing assistance can access a scholarship option.

Source : psu.edu
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