What kind of tree should I plant in my back yard to soak up the most carbon?

Illuminating answers to environmental questions.
Jan. 8 2008 7:37 AM

The Greenest Tree

What kind of tree should I plant in my back yard to soak up the most carbon?

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How might planting, say, a half-dozen such supertrees on your property affect your household's annual carbon footprint? Let's say that a hybrid yellow poplar can be engineered to sequester 30 percent more carbon than the regular variety, for a grand total of 178.44 pounds per year. Multiply that by six trees, and you've offset 1,071 pounds of carbon. That, in turn, translates into 3,931 pounds of carbon dioxide, or 1.78 metric tons. Estimates vary widely, but the average American household's annual carbon footprint is around 22 metric tons.

Of course, if you have enough property to plant six yellow poplars in the first place, your carbon footprint may be a lot higher than that.

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Brendan I. Koerner is a contributing editor at Wired and a columnist for Gizmodo. His first book, Now the Hell Will Start, is out now.