July 4, 2017

"A Moss Wall with the Pollution-Eating Power of 275 Trees."

"The CityTree is a pop-up moss wall capable of consuming as much air pollution in an urban environment as a small forest...."
Yet the CityTree is not meant for parks or to replace street trees, but to add greenery to concrete-heavy spaces where planting is not an option. Paris, one of the inaugural CityTree cities, has a very thin tree canopy; the newly launched Treepedia from MIT’s Senseable City Lab ranked it among the lowest in its tree study of major cities. Nevertheless, as anyone who has attempted to keep a home terrarium knows, even moss requires care for its water needs, and it’s hard to imagine the mini-gardens making it through a harsh winter. Further, the CityTree lacks many benefits of having 275 trees, such as shade.

28 comments:

Wilbur said...

It's really not a wall; it's a wall panel.

I'd like to have a wall of those around my back yard, replacing the concrete panels there now. I wonder if it could handle the South Florida climate.

Happy 4th to everyone.

Lyle Smith said...

They don't seem to understand that emissions in the U.S. are going down thanks to natural gas and that emissions are going up in Germany thanks to coal.

Unknown said...

So...build that wall?

rhhardin said...

Mur de mousse.

Tommy Duncan said...

...it’s hard to imagine the mini-gardens making it through a harsh winter.

Non-renewable? That's barbaric, but perhaps it creates jobs each spring for the under class workers.

The walls ruin the aesthetics of the church scene in Dresden, but only the riff-raff attend church.

On the plus side, the walls are very chic-urban and provide an elegant contrast to the plebeian trees found in fly-over country.

CJ said...

Pretty cool idea but I'll bet a synthetic material that scrubs and sequesters carbon dioxide will be more efficient.

MadisonMan said...

I'd like to have a wall of those around my back yard, replacing the concrete panels there now. I wonder if it could handle the South Florida climate.

I agree -- this would be cool, and pretty easy to construct, although moss grows very slowly and it would require plenty of water in FL. It might work better here in WI, but you'd have to gather a lot of rainwater to keep it hydrated through the dry spells. The infrastructure to keep the things wet in a city wouldn't be worth the cost, I don't think, although Paris is free to spend the money to prove me wrong.

You'd be threading a needle, keeping it moist enough, and not promoting mold (or rust) growing on the support.

robother said...

Indeed, I had always heard that shade for their conquering troops was the principal motive for the Germans planting all those Plane trees along the Champs de Elysee.

n.n said...

Perhaps a water vapor sequestration project to reclaim water from the atmosphere. It would reduce catastrophic anthropogenic urban warming and would be a surplus credit since water vapor is far and away the greater green gas.

rhhardin said...

Perhaps other desserts can be found that soak up greenhouse gasses.

Big Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Mike said...

So we can address carbon dioxide without cap and trade, and thus without making the filthy rich even richer and more filthy? Good to know.

The Godfather said...

I was surprised to read in the hyperallergic.com article about "President Trump’s . . . avowal to push for the country’s 'energy dominance' through a concentration on coal". I'd missed that Trump "avowal". So I checked the link that hyperallergic provided to support its claim, and I saw it went to Time.com. Gosh, I thought Time went out with polyester pants suits. But I checked, and Time is still there, and it says that Trump wants to attain "energy dominance" using "the country's resource — particularly liquified natural gas, or LNG", not coal. Well, obviously hyperallergic couldn't refer to Trump wanting to increase use of natural gas, because natural gas is clean; if hyperallergic had cited its source honestly, the reader would immediately see that a moss wall wouldn't strike a blow against Trump. And if it doesn't strike a blow against Trump, what use is it?

John said...

Why does it cost $25m per "tree"?

My guess would be $1-2m tops.

Perhaps if they only put 1 solar panel and 1 Wi-Fi for the entire plaza they could save $20m per panel.

Typical govt boondoggle

John Henry

Bad Lieutenant said...

My guy at the orchard says the going rate for apple trees (to cross-pollinate our heirloom more reliably) is $100/year of age.

Yancey Ward said...

Each of those cost $25 thousand just to buy? Wow, the stupidity of people who work in government is mind-boggling.

Lewis Wetzel said...

This was such a fabulous idea that no one would pay for it with their own money!
The wall "offsets" 240 tons of CO2. Each wall costs $25k.
A round trip coach class flight, Berlin to NY, has a carbon footprint of about 1 ton of CO2.

Yancey Ward said...

I also have to question the claim that the wall offsets 240 tons of CO2/year. How? Does the wall increase in mass by 240 tons/year? Really? If not, then where does the added mass go every year? Into a landfill or buried? If buried, where? If buried, how did it make to the landfill? If buried, doesn't it just decompose releasing the CO2 again?

Don't get me wrong here- I think the claim this wall takes up and sequesters 240 tons of CO2/year is a truly stupendous outright lie told by the hucksters who sell this thing to idiots.

Josephbleau said...

Perhaps it breaks the covalent bond and releases O2 to atmosphere. This would remove co2 with a solid precipitate of 12/32 * 240 tons. Or 90 tons of retained carbon.

Yancey Ward said...

Josephbleau,

Even at 90 tons, it wouldn't pass the laugh test- can you imagine that wall increasing in mass by 90 tons a year? In any case, while O2 is released in photosynthesis, the carbon isn't sequestered as pure carbon, it is sequestered, largely, as carbohydrate polymers which have roughly a 1 to 1 mass ratio of oxygen to carbon/hydrogen, so the 240 is only reduced to about 160 or so.

Achilles said...

The difference between Government and Private enterprise:

Salesman: "I want to see you A Moss Wall with the Pollution-Eating Power of 200 Trees!"

Business Owner: Do you have any documentation?

Salsman: no...

Business Owner: No thanks.

Or...

Salesman: "I want to see you A Moss Wall with the Pollution-Eating Power of 200 Trees!"

Bureaucrat: *eyes glaze over*

Bureaucrat: "Could you make that a bigger number? how about 275?"

Salesman: "uh... ok."

Bureaucrat: "How much does it cost?"

Salesman: "$20,000 per wall."

Bureaucrat: "That's not enough to waste my time."

Salesman: "uh... $1,000,000 a wall."

Bureaucrat: "Deal!"

Owen said...

Those are pretty ugly.

I can see some graffiti artist coming through with a sprayer full of Round-up and etching the moss with some tags.

I also do not believe, not for a moment, the claims about how much CO2 a panel could sequester. And the article is strangely silent on maintenance costs. Does somebody come by to prune and tend and mist these plants? Or are they so incredibly robust that we can ignore the labor, talent, time and money that will need to budgeted?

Plant some trees, please. And stop the virtue-signaling hype/scam.

Owen said...

Also: "pop-up" is SUCH an obvious culturally appropriative term! It began as under-the-radar food vans, that could quickly serve the needs of a crowd and maybe escape oligopolistic regulation (but also health inspection?). Very Urban Cool and trendy. Now it is being hijacked to add some marketing buzz to a big stainless steel flowerpot.

Please.

Khesanh 0802 said...

The question raised above of what happens to all that particulate matter seems so obvious to me - a non-scientist -that you would think one of the puff pieces would have mentioned it. I think of the amount of dust that I see rising out of a combine, most of that has been deposited passively from the atmosphere over the growing season. Isn't this moss wall doing the same thing, but more actively? I would appreciate it if Yancey Ward or Josephbleu could write a quick explanation for "Dummies" why these things can't work. Maybe they already have.

Yancey Ward said...

Khesanh,

An average sized, mature hardwood tree would weigh between 10 and 20 tons. The claim in this article is that the moss wall would absorb the mass in CO2 equivalents of 20 such trees if you planted them and they fully matured in a single year, which, of course, they don't. It just doesn't pass the smell test. I am guessing that, at some point, someone converted pounds into tons- either the firm selling these items, or the author of the article.

Someone is laughably wrong here, or lying through their teeth.

Be said...

I guess Paris has to do *something,* as they keep cutting down old trees due to the French consideration that All Trees are Potentially Dangerous in that they can fall on cars, pedestrians, etc. Plus, the air quality there is Disgusting. (You try balancing Kyoto with being one of the major Diesel Engine Producers in the world, and see how far you get.) Tipping Point, maybe.

The Moss / Plant Wall thing, along with the green roof thing, are the babies of both French and French Seed Schools (the Polytechnics in the US being based on the French "Grand Ecole" model). Guess they have to get their start somewhere.

***

Yancey Ward's above commentary is spot on, in how such calculations are made through that education ... not so bad when one's dealing with Concrete / Harmonics for buildings, roads, bridges, certain areas of mechanics (which the French excel at), but not so great when dealing with other things.

Zach said...

I've lived in a few places where that would be very welcome. I have to admit that the plaza in front of the Fraunkirche in Dresden isn't one of them. It's in the middle of the baroque quarter, with lots of ornamented buildings and formal gardens surrounding it. It would look very nice in Oakland or Berkeley, though.

Khesanh 0802 said...

@ Yancey Ward So, essentially, it is all bullshit? No, I forgot, that's methane.