In the Philippine creation story, the first man Malakas (Strong One) and the first woman Maganda (Beautiful One) emerged from the two halves of a bamboo tree. It is one of many Asian origin myths that features bamboo—a plant that human beings have cultivated for more than a thousand uses, from buildings to food to paper.
Addressing global warming is another way it can be brought into service. Bamboo rapidly sequesters carbon in biomass and soil, taking it out of the air faster than almost any other plant, and can thrive on inhospitable degraded lands—the ideal place to put bamboo to work.
Just a grass, bamboo has the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel. It reaches its full height in one growing season, at which time it can be harvested for pulp or allowed to grow to maturity over four to eight years. After being cut, bamboo re-sprouts and grows again.
Because bamboo is an invasive species in many places, which can spread with detrimental effects to native ecosystems, care should be taken to select appropriate locations and manage its growth.
Technical summaries for each solution will be available May 1, 2017.