The Carboniferous was a period where CO2 levels fell drastically.

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Source: Geologic history of seawater: A MAGic approach to carbon chemistry and ocean ventilation

I think the main reasons are tectonic settings and the formation of coal deposits with the arrival of lignite-rich plants that bacteria didn't know yet how to decompose.

My question here is:

Forgetting Carboniferous plants were efficient sequestrating CO2 forming coal deposits after dying, were living Carboniferous plants more efficient sequestering CO2 than present plants?

Meaning, would a Carboniferous forest be more efficient than present forests to sequestrate CO2 nowadays?

  • $\begingroup$ @Earthworm I removed the part of introducing the Carboniferous plants to fight climate change to focus on the first question and be not so speculative. Anyhow, time is running out and we must act as EU is doing, but who knows in say 500 years? Maybe carbon sequestration allow to mantain some necesary CO2 industries. $\endgroup$
    – user20559
    Apr 24, 2021 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred Thanks for editing as allways you do a nice task here. Only a thing, isn't Carboniferous a System in Stratigraphic International Chart? Anyhow period is maybe more generical, not so technic and more comprehensible for readers. $\endgroup$
    – user20559
    Apr 24, 2021 at 15:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ stratigraphy.org/ICSchart/ChronostratChart2020-03.pdf, but we are talkign about a different world and 60 million years (per definition). I am not sure if any organism of that time could be transferred to our world without handwaving. I would try an answer if I knew something definitive, but maybe somebody else will. Am curious :-) $\endgroup$
    – user22279
    Apr 24, 2021 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ Ah ok I see System or Period. Ok forget my last comment $\endgroup$
    – user20559
    Apr 24, 2021 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Universal_learner: I've always regarded the Carboniferous as a period of time, or era. That's the way it was described in lectures when I studied many years ago. Since your query I've have look online and you are correct, the Carboniferous is also a system in terms of stratigraphy, where " A system in stratigraphy is a unit of rock layers that were laid down together within the same corresponding geological period". I interpreted the question as asking what happened during a particular period of time & that's why I edited the way I did. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Apr 24, 2021 at 16:05

1 Answer 1


Probably not.

The biological pathways to make lignin is the same in all plants so there is no reasons to believe they would be better. If anything modern trees as a whole may be better since they survive in larger range of environments and very dense wooded trees exist. In addition without defenses against modern wood decomposers Carboniferous plants may have a hard time surviving in the modern world.


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