Planting trees is most effective and cheapest way to fight climate change: study

A study has suggested that the best way to combat global warming would include planting one trillion trees. If Swiss scientists are to be believed, the planet has enough space for all one trillion. With the way that humans have landscaped their areas as cities and cultivation plots, there still exists 3.5 million square miles which can be covered with trees. This measure of land would cover the entire United States.

The study has shown that over the next few decades, newly planted trees could soak up 830 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This equals to carbon pollution created by human beings over the last 25 years.

The benefit of the tree plantation will happen in the near future as their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide will begin even when they are younger. The potential for this carbon cleansing lies most in the tropics. Thomas Crowther, an ecologist who works for climate change at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich calls this the cheapest existing solution to climate change.

Six nations which have enough scope for new trees at this scale are Russia, the US, Canada, Brazil, China, and Australia. Prior to the research, Crowther was a believer that more effective ways to fight climate change existed, such as cutting emissions, switching to vegetarianism etc. However, mass tree planting is more effective because trees will actually take carbon dioxide from the air and give out oxygen.

A George Mason University conservation biologist who was not part of the study, Thomas Lovejoy, called this the good news story. He said that planting trees would also restore biodiversity. Planting trees cannot be used as a substitute to reducing the planet’s usage of coal, natural gas, oil and other non-renewable resources.

Emission cuts should still be a priority for the nation. It is not realistic or simple to think that the planet will abruptly begin to plant trees, though efforts have already begun. He said that every single day we lose tree cover and leave the tropics dry, but this restoration of balance will not be an easy task.

Researchers have been known to use Google Earth to spot areas which can house more trees and also leave room for crops and people who grow them.

Jean Francois Bastin, the lead author of the study, says that 1 or 1.5 trillion trees can yet be accommodated. This number will be additional to the 3 trillion trees that already grow on the planet. The calculations made by them do have substance to them according to Chris Field from Stanford University. The question according to him as of now, as he is not a part of the study, is whether this is feasible to restore this amount of the forest cover.

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