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Massive Tree Planting to Help Climate Change

One Billion Hectares of Forest

Massive Tree Planting to Help Climate Change

A study in 2002 at the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station in Syracuse, New York, examining the effectiveness of trees for carbon sequestration in U.S. cities, commended the common horse-chestnut, black walnut, American sweetgum, ponderosa pine, red pine, white pine, Hispaniolan pine, Douglas fir, scarlet oak, red oak, Virginia live oak, and bald cypress as trees especially proficient at the activity.

Since trees do such a good job of carbon sequestration, is it possible to plant enough of them to actually stem the rising global temperatures being widely reported? Possibly, according to a recent analysis.

As reported by Alex Fox in Science, a new evaluation by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that growing an additional 1 billion hectares of forested land could subtract around two thirds of the carbon that human activity has put into the atmosphere in the past 200-plus years, and in doing so help cap global warming at 1.5℃ by 2050.

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich endeavored to calculate how much land is still available on our planet that would be suitable for tree growth.

The process included analyzing tens of thousands of satellite photographs, evaluating and categorizing soil and climate qualities for supportability of tree growth, subtracting existing forests, dense urban and suburban areas and land set aside for food production.
The results as detailed in Science was "0.9 billion hectares of additional forest-an area the size of the United States-without impinging on existing urban or agricultural lands," and "those added trees could sequester 205 gigatons of carbon in the coming decades, roughly five times the amount emitted globally in 2018." 

An attempt of this size is of course not without its critics and challenges, which include the costs, with one estimation putting it at $300 billion.

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October 16, 2019, 1:29 pm PDT

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