Inside Climate News: The Radical Case for Growing Huge Swaths of Bamboo in North America. The grass has a bad rap in the U.S. as an invasive nuisance, but the plant can quickly sequester at least double—and maybe even six times—the amount of carbon as a similar stand of trees.
As a kid, Lauren Lydick would pack up a towel, a Harry Potter book, and head out alone into the bamboo groves. As a teenager, she took a blanket, War & Peace, and weed. Sometimes reading, sometimes just lying on her back looking up through the green, Lydick felt like she could be anywhere. Thailand, maybe, or Malaysia. It’s said that in rural parts of Japan, parents tell their children, “If you feel an earthquake, run into the bamboo. Its roots will hold the earth together for you.” Lydick felt that sense of protection somehow, even though she lived in Imperial County, California, one of the hottest, most polluted places in North America. And even though there was no escaping her easily-triggered, asthmatic chest.
In 2014, Paul Hawken, an enviro-activist and the author of the 2007 climate classic, Blessed Unrest, founded a nonprofit organization, Project Drawdown, and later published a global analysis of exactly which climate “solutions” had the best chance of slowing down the death march of global warming. It catalogued many ways to arrest carbon emissions, not ignoring the environmental impacts of racial equity and better education for women. The word drawdown was Hawken’s vision for a time when we could stop the incessant puffing of greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere and start clearing up that same airspace, sucking heat-trappers back down and sequestering them long enough to give the Earth a chance to regulate its own temperature again.