Environment

How to Stop Climate Change? Plant More Trees!

Startling new research means every person and community can make a difference.


Imagine a forest the size of the United States. That's a big forest.

And it would also have the potential to erase 100 years of carbon emissions and stop climate change. That's the startling discovery from research that set out to look at how many trees the Earth could actually support.

Scientists used aerial maps to see which areas are open to large-scale re-forestation.

The Swiss scientists who did the research aren't suggesting we should all move out and turn the U.S. -- or any country -- into a forest. What they're saying is that there's enough land available worldwide to increase the world's forest cover by about one-third (about a trillion trees) without affecting anyone's town or farm, and that could stop climate change in its tracks. But they warn: we have to do something quickly, because as the earth gets warmer, the amount of land that's suitable for forests decreases.

"Our study shows clearly that forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today," Tom Crowther told National Geographic . Crowther is a researcher at ETH Zurich, and senior author of the study The global tree restoration potential . Why trees? As we learned in elementary school science, trees take carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen through the process of photosynthesis.

Six countries, including the U.S. make up half of the world's area for potential re-forestation.

There's plenty of room for re-forestation, especially in Russia, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China, which make up half of this potential new "forest" area. "Since new forests can't and won't spring up overnight, it's still important to protect existing trees and forests, and cut down on the use of fossil fuels say the scientists. But reforestation can buy us time to cut our carbon emissions," said lead study author Jean-Francois Bastian.

"The nice thing about this solution is it's really low-tech," said Crowther. "It doesn't need a politician to make a decision, and it doesn't need a scientist to come up with some new invention. All it needs is all of us getting involved."

By now it should be obvious: you can make a difference by planting a tree, or getting together a group to plant multiple trees. Here are some organizations to help you get started (click to link):

�Anyone can plant a tree and we can start doing it tomorrow." Jean-Francois Bastin

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