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
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