As long-time readers/fans/stalkers of The Zero will recall, I recently became fully obsessed with trees. Trees are a relatively recent innovation in which upright wooden cylinders are placed beneath a cluster of small green photosynthesis machines, to both produce oxygen and unproduce carbon dioxide. If we’re going to survive the climate crisis and save humanity – and we’re already in long-shot territory – we’ll need to plant billions of the leafy little buggers to suck up all the fatal CO2 we’ve been pumping out because people like aeroplanes, milk and Nando’s.
I’ve got in the habit of buying a bunch of trees every payday, via One Tree Planted and Plant For The Planet. Since last summer I’ve bought ten trees in Brazil, ten in Mexico, ten in Burundi, ten in Bangladesh, 12 in Colorado, 20 in Kenya, 108 in India and 150 in Russia. That’s 330 trees for about a tenner a month. It’s like Spotify but for not going extinct.
I’ve also started using Ecosia, the search engine and browser that plants one tree for about every 45 searches. It’s literally the least we can do – and shouldn’t be the only thing we do – but is one of those wee things that adds up to a big thing, Butterflies style. Ecosia reckons it’s so far added up to about 80 million trees, which is a decent effort towards the trillion or so we need. You should very definitely use it on your computers and iOS and Android devices immediately and forever more. Trees aside it wouldn’t hurt to distance ourselves from Google, given they’ve tweaked their motto from “Don’t be evil” to “Give evil a try, see how it goes.”
But while these efforts have dwarfed the achievements of Al Gore and Greta Thunberg, there remains much I can do. I can be less clicktivisty and more hands-on. So last weekend I went on a tree-planting expedition. The Borders Forest Trust plants woodlands in the south of Scotland, the borders area that in our post-independence dystopian future will become disputed wasteland populated by hordes of S&M cannibal-kinksters. They put out a call for volunteers on their Facebook page, I signed up, and thus the world was possibly saved.
It was cold. And wet, at times. And I had to set an alarm on a Sunday morning, which is the biggest sacrifice available to humanity. But it was worth it. A whole bunch of us planted hundreds of trees and a bunch of bushes on glen, hill and tump. It felt quite amazing, putting these little sticks in the ground and hoping they’d take root and grow into big beefy trees. Wondering what the place would look like in 20 years when they’d grown, what the world around them would look like. Whether we’d have done what we needed to survive. Or whether they’d be growing away happily while we suffered floods and famines and the breakdown of civilisation and the rise of Maxes both sane and mad.
It got me so into tree-planting I planted my Christmas tree in the hidden arse-end of an industrial estate. I’d tried it once before, a few years back. Planted a living Christmas tree there, a tree I could return to and replant year after year, a tree that would grow with us, come with us from home to home. That was the idea. But I planted it in Glasgow, so by February someone had nicked it.
This is what it will take. All of us chipping in a bit, financially and physically. A few million people buying and planting a few trillion trees, at least until our governments take this a bit more seriously and scale up their efforts. Since I got on it I’ve bought 330 trees and planted maybe 30 myself. The whole group of us must have planted 800 or a thousand or something halfway decent in one day. It’s doable.
You should do it. You should definitely do it. You can donate to One Tree Planted and Plant For The Planet, join your local Greenpeace group, be a Friend of an Earth (I recommend this one) and follow tree-planting organisations on social media to hear about tree planting sessions; the likes of Borders Forest Trust, Woodland Trust, Trees For Life and Trees For Cities. Get on it!
Meanwhile, good luck, little sticks! Me and six billion other stupid bastards are counting on you…
Photo credit: The Zero