Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humankind at this point in history.
But, according to science, there’s a relatively simple way to solve the problem. All we have to do is plant trees. Lots and lots of trees.
In fact, a new study suggests there’s a lot more space available on the planet for planting trees than we thought. Adding an extra 1 billion hectares (2.4 billion acres) would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 25%.
The researchers from ETH-Zurich in Switzerland, used mapping software based on the Google Earth engine to try to generate a predictive model showing whereabouts on Earth this extra tree cover could be placed.
The bulk of the planting would have to take place in Russia, the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China.
‘Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today and it provides hard evidence to justify investment,’ said Prof Tom Crowther, the senior author on the study.
‘If we act now, this could cut carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 25%, to levels last seen almost a century ago.’
Not accounting for existing trees, farmland and urban areas, the researchers found there was 0.9 billion hectares that could be used for the new trees. Once mature (in around 50 to 100 years), these trees could pull in up to 200 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
‘This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,’ Professor Crowther said.
‘What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.’
Time to get planting.
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