Dr. Bruce McCarl, of Texas A&M University, published an article on the potential for greenhouse gas mitigation in the U.S. agriculture and forestry sectors in the December 21, 2001, issue of Science Magazine


Dr. McCarl and coauthor Dr. Uwe Schneider at Iowa State reported on the results of a model developed to estimate the costs of reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon. The analysis indicates that the agriculture and forestry sector could remove about 0.15 Gigatonnes carbon equivalent per year at a price of $50/metric ton carbon. Removing 0.4 Gigatonnes per year, however, would require very high prices ($500/metric ton). For comparison, the Kyoto Protocol would have required U.S. reductions of about 0.6 Gigatonnes per year during the 2008-2012 time period. The analysis assumed current technologies and compared agricultural and forestry options with the price of other mitigation options in the time frame of the next decade. One advantage of McCarl’s model is the accounting for competing processes. For example, adding nitrogen fertilizer may increase soil carbon sequestration, but it could also increase the gross emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, as well as carbon dioxide due to manufacture and application of the fertilizer. The research was supported by the Integrated Assessment research program, the DOE Center for Research on Enhancing Carbon Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystems (CSiTE), and other funding sources.