I’ve heard this twice from people that are experts in their fields, and now the BBC News writer Matt McGrath is reporting on a new study published in Science that recommends planting trees~billions of trees~to counter global warming.
Trees have a natural ability to capture carbon dioxide on a remarkable scale, and estimates suggest that there is a capacity the size of the United States that could be reforested around the world. Of course while tree planting may be an effective strategy it is still critical to arrest fossil fuel emissions. Estimates in the research study suggest trees can neutralize two-thirds of all carbon burden. That means that planting 900 million hectares of trees would result in an additional storage of 205 billion tons of carbon.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that if the world wanted to limit the rise to 1.5C by 2050, an extra 1bn hectares (2.4bn acres) of trees would be needed. The problem has been that accurate estimates of just how many trees the world can support have been hard to come by.This new report aims to show not just how many trees can be grown, but where they could be planted and how much of an impact they would have on carbon emissions.
Scientists from ETH-Zurich used Google Earth mapping software to create a predictive map exploring where new tree canopy could be located. Excluding farms and cities, they estimate that globally nearly 1 billion hectares of tree cover could be added. And those trees once matured “could pull down around 200 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, some two-thirds of extra carbon from human activities put into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.”
Imagine~with a reduction of carbon dioxide by 25 percent, the air would be a similar quality to that of 100 years ago. This finally provides a definitive assessment of the amounts of trees needed and even identifies which countries can reforest.
I have previously written about the Little Ice Age that occurred in Europe in the 1500’s when colonization and disease decimated North American First Nations, reducing the population from 60 million to an estimated 5 to 6 million in a short century. Called the “Great Dying”, scientists claim that the wilding of hundreds of thousands of hectares of abandoned indigenous agricultural lands by trees and other vegetation “pulled down enough carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere to eventually chill the planet.”
This new report on planting trees to mitigate today’s pollution is a first step to examining how to capture carbon dioxide without compromising agricultural or urban lands. You can also take a look at this link from Global News for more information.