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.
A report a few weeks back (this is unusually topical for yer old Zero) reckoned 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. It 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.”
This 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.
This can be done. The Bonn Challenge, bigged up by the UN, 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 Zeroes: We can plant trees in our gardens if we have them, we can donate to tree-planting organisations, and we can volunteer for them to plant our share of the trillions we need.
OneTreePlanted plants one tree for one dollar, reforesting patches of North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa. In figures provided to Charity Navigator they reckon they’ve planted two million trees in 18 countries since 2014. If you donate monthly to Plant For The Planet they’ll plant one tree for one euro, letting you decide whether your donations will be spent only on trees or also on awareness-raising. Your money can go further by choosing one of The Trillion Tree Campaign’s projects, where they figure an average cost-per-tree: Right now, a donation of 10 euros could stick 100 trees in Malawi via Wells For Zoë; a donation of 10 dollars could plonk 100 trees in Haiti, Indonesia, Nepal, Madagascar and Mozambique via the Eden Reforestation Project.
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.
Photo credit: The Zero