The Climate Crisis: Why Planting Trees May Be The Answer (Or At Least Part of It)
Climate change is undoubtedly one of the biggest problems we face today. While cutting down on carbon emissions, working toward sustainability, and implementing renewable energy sources are crucial, one seemingly simple solution may have the greatest impact: planting trees.
Trees have the potential to heal our planet by simply existing -- they pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and generate oxygen in return.
TIME reported that nearly half of Earth’s trees have been lost in the past 100 years alone. In addition, many of the remaining trillion trees are currently under threat. TIME identifies forest restoration efforts as “the most cost effective of all the big solutions,” and “a critical tool in the fight against climate change.”
According to a 2019 study in the journal Science, forest restoration has the potential to considerably reduce carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. The study suggests that Earth is capable of sustaining approximately 2.2 billion additional acres of forest. By increasing the number of forested areas globally, without interfering with other ecosystems (like grasslands), the rate of global warming could be markedly reduced.
Many other potential solutions would also have significant impacts. However, while sustainability is eventually attainable, change takes time. So, even if planting trillions of trees is not the ultimate solution, it would likely speed up the process of reducing atmospheric carbon, especially if implemented alongside other methods. And, as the study suggests, time is valuable in the fight against climate change.
In addition to tackling the carbon in our atmosphere, forest restoration also has the potential to preserve biodiversity. According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, deforestation has devastating impacts.
“Forests are vitally important for sustaining life on Earth, and play a major role in the fight against climate change. Investing in land restoration is critical for improving livelihoods, reducing vulnerabilities, and reducing risks for the economy.”
It may seem that one person cannot make a difference when dealing with such a large-scale problem, but that is far from the truth. Trees become more effective at removing carbon from the atmosphere as they mature. The more trees are planted, the better the outcome.
Planting trees, or supporting organizations who do, has the potential to change the trajectory of our future.