A proposal to plant a trillion trees to save us from climate change may not be realistic. Here's why


During his 2020 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump — whose presidency had yet to be derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic — tried to pass himself off as an environmentalist by throwing his weight behind the One Trillion Trees Initiative. The soon-to-be-former president described it as "an ambitious effort to bring together government and private sector to plant new trees in America and all around the world."

Unlike many Trump initiatives, this one was well-received on both sides of the aisle. A few months later, a bipartisan bill was introduced for the purpose of "reducing carbon in the atmosphere by restoring and conserving forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal habitats."

The logic of the bill seems obvious: The planet is warming because industrial civilization pumps greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Trees soak up one of those gases, carbon dioxide.

Such a climate change "fix" is attractive perhaps because of its simplicity. Unlike technologically intensive proposals, like geoengineering or building industrial carbon removal facilities that suck carbon dioxide from the air, planting trees is an elegant solution. Unlike the aforementioned, it is not technologically or technically intensive. 

Unfortunately, the solution to halting climate change may not be quite so simple. 

News Date: 

Sunday, September 19, 2021