Our best alternative to dying horribly in a fiery, watery ice age.
As we barrel full-speed into the climate apocalypse, wilfully removing our species from the earth because we like making money, eating meat and driving places, it may be worth reflecting that ripping up trillions of trees and covering 106% of the earth’s surface with concrete has had some unintended consequences. Top of the list, for example, would be how we’re barrelling full-speed into an actual fucking apocalypse.
There is some very, very basic science at work here: Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases triggering the climate crisis. Trees suck up carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. We’ve removed so many trees and spewed out so many carbons and dioxides the balance is a way off. So there is some very, very basic logic at work here: Deforestation will kill us. More trees will help save us.
In 2019 a bunch of scientists knocked out a report saying on top of reducing our CO2 output – which we very definitely have to do – we need to plant a few billion trees to suck up the shit we’ve pumped out so far. They worked out two-thirds of all carbon emissions could be gobbled up if we took advantage of every available bit of tree-plantable space; about 11% of the surface of the earth, not counting the wet bits. And although we’ve all had enough of experts, these experts reckon reforestation is “overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”
Reforesting the planet will take a level of vision and ambition we seem incapable of managing as a species, a level of organisation and commitment our governments seem unwilling to provide, and money on a scale usually reserved for bombing foreign children or bailing out Wolves of Wall and other Streets. But if it’s what we need, we need to summon the will to force our lizard overlords to get on it.
It can be done. The Bonn Challenge is haranguing governments into reforesting 150 million hectares of degraded land by 2020 and 350 million by 2030. The UN and the Plant For The Planet Foundation have been running The Billion Tree Campaign since 2006, getting governments, organisations and individuals to plant shitloads of trees all over the world, not counting the wet bits. They’d planted a billion trees by 2007 and are heading for 14 billion as we speak, planting so many of the lovely buggers they’ve had to rename themselves The Trillion Tree Campaign.
While agitating for global, systemic change we can get started as individual Butterflying Zeroes. We can plant trees in our gardens if we have them. We can donate to tree-planting organisations like One Tree Planted, Plant For The Planet and The Trillion Tree Campaign who’ve been reforesting the place for years. And we can get hands on, sticking trees in the ground ourselves. In the UK, you can plant trees in the Scottish highlands with Trees For Life or join a local Greenpeace group that’ll partner with tree-planting organisations.
This is what we have to do. All of us. And with the Amazon setting itself on fire in protest, we have to do it quickly if we’re to stop barrelling full-speed into the climate apocalypse we’re very definitely barrelling full-speed into.
Let science kick in
Save the goddamn world
Photo credit: The Zero
Related Blog Posts
Among the million things we need to do to avert climate breakdown, kicking the arse out of plastic is one of the most urgent. Plastic comes from dirty-bad oil, gas and coal, using about 4.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and about 6% of coal-fired electricity in its production. We’re bringing on the sixth mass extinction for the sake of shrink-wrapped broccoli.
In my withered, Covid-infested state I find myself doing less and less for the big battles we need to win: Yer climate breakdown, yer rise of fascism, yer eating the rich. But recently I’ve discovered a critical area of climate activism that requires even less effort than doing very little: Doing nothing at all! By which I mean I’m buying less shit.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the IPCC – issued its latest report this week, pointing out how monumentally fucked we are because we like cars, burgers and mass extinctions. It makes for grim reading – but only if you actually read it. Here are nine ways you can avoid giving it any thought at all!
Desperate to avoid petrol I hired an electric car for the purposes of hard science. I requisitioned a Renault Zoe for a few days, rented a lab coat and three pens for its pocket, bought a clipboard outright and began the grand experiment. The key tests were how well the battery lasted with my commute and the business of social work, how quickly it drained when parked overnight, how big a pain in the arse public charge points are, and how often I’d have to use the buggers.
Back in the arse-end of 2019 I finally ditched my car, having decided humanity was marginally more important than an easy commute. But then Covid hit. And hit me right in the face. Almost two years later I’m still having trouble walking, still working fully from home and only just starting full time hours. I need a car. Which means I need an electric car, which means a lot of expense…
We’ve made it halfway through COP26. It’s been a week of photo ops and erasures, announcements and sucker-punches, protests and Borises being colossal shits. On the surface there have been some decent announcements…
And so we find ourselves on the eve of COP26, where highfalutin delegates from around 200 countries will come together in Glasgow to either unite the world to tackle climate change or to talk shit, greenwash their failures and prove virtue signalling is a real thing after all. In preparation I’ve been hard at work on my soul-crushing climate anxiety. This requires long nights lying awake fretting, long days doomscrolling social media. It requires your heart pounding against your ribs so hard it actually makes a noise.
My grand return to the world of disability hasn’t been great for carbon footprinting. The early, housebound stage was amazing, obviously. The plus side of not leaving my bed for months is that it reduced my emissions – and my activity, social life and hope – to zero. But as I got more with it, public transport was no longer an option…
As the climate crisis escalates and we begin laying track for Fury Roads, most of us are living our lives much as before. It’s a society-wide combover, with all of us pretending not to notice the very clear bald patches poking through. But even with our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears, climate breakdown will keep on trucking. Here’s how, Buzzfeed style: