The Oyster’s Example

Towards Sequestration in the Principled Pursuit of Green.

Russell Maier
Published in
7 min readMay 5, 2021


Observe the way the Earth has subtracted, concentrated and secured its active elements for the long-term. -Earthen Principle №3

This is the eighth post in the Earthen Ethic series. Here we take a look at the third principle of ecological contribution: Towards Storage. Image from Kunstformen der Natur (1904), by Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel, German artist and philosopher who coined the term ‘ecology’.

UNLIKE A CAR, A ROCKET LAUNCH OR AN EBOOK, the Crassostrea gigas Oyster removes, concentrates and stores carbon out of its environment. In so doing, it not only provides it’s own home, but also a valuable ecological contribution to our common home. By extracting calcium and carbon from the ocean around it, oysters build their shell out of calcium carbonate. On average, 13% of an oyster shell’s net weight is carbon.i At the end of the oyster’s life, the shell falls to the bottom of the ocean floor. There it and countless other shells are buried by feces, carcasses and other carbon-laden organic matter raining down from life above. Over time, the buried shell is completely secured from sun, friction and oxidation. Effectively protected from degradation, it can be eons before its carbon and calcium have a chance to cycle back into biosphere.ii

An oyster’s shell embodies the third phenomenon that has characterized the Earth’s greening of the planet — the inevitable draw down of its active elements into secure storage. As we saw earlier, the Earth has slowly and steadily subtracted its carbon into concentrated, geological deposits over the last billion years. Like the Earthen principles of indefinite cycling and biosphere-benefit, this principle is reflected in all Earth’s organisms. Whether it is the fallen carbon carcass of an animal, bacteria or oyster shell, within every organism is the tendency for its active elements to be compacted and secured for the long-term in a cumulative process known as sequestration. Over the eons, with countless plants, animals and oysters assisting, billions of tons of carbon were sequestered this way. With the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reduced, the climate stabilized and the biosphere grew more stable, livable, abundant and green with life.

Overtime organic matter tends towards concentration, compaction and indefinite storage. In contrast, petro-capital processes de-compact carbon letting loose CO2 and micro-plastics into the biosphere

Just as all Earthen processes tend towards sequestration, so too must our human process intend and realize the same if they are to be green. For our…



Russell Maier
Earthen → Green ethics, ecological metaphysics, regenerative philosophy. Earth builder & Forest Gardener.