Burning Buried Sunshine 196,000 pounds of plants are required to produce a gallon of gasoline. It takes 40 acres of plants, roots, stalks and leaves, to go 20 miles in the average car. I ran across this paper in my archives from 2003 and the information is oh-so timely. It is just incredible how much buried sunshine, how many fossilized photons it takes to make up a little bit of oil. Jeff Dukes, published this paper in the journal Climatic Change. This is how much ancient plant matter had to be buried millions of years ago to produce one gallon of gas. Dukes calculated that the total amount of plants burned in 1997 was 97 million billion pounds of carbon, which is equivalent to more than 400 times all the plant matter that grows in the world in a year. The amount of plants that went into the fossil fuels we burned since the Industrial Revolution began (in 1750s) is equal to all the plants grown on Earth over 13,300 years. This ancient solar energy is normally emitted back into the environment over millions of years. We are literally releasing this carbon millions of times faster than it is naturally.
Dukes, Burning buried sunshine, Climatic change, 2003.