Can Trees Help Climate Change?
Tuesday, September 8th, 2020
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at an all-time high at 412 parts per million. This is the highest it has ever been in the last 650,00 years! Yes, you read that correctly: 650,000 years! Isn’t that enough to tell us we have a problem?
It’s not rocket science that humans have had the greatest impact on this number. We’re polluting the planet more than it can handle. Earth’s reaction to it; climate change. Take a look at this chart of CO2 levels from the last 800,000 years. Compare our modern-day emissions with the emissions from before 1950 (0). Do you think humans have had something to do with it?
Although many people like to argue that climate change is a natural process, they’re not wrong. But the problem now is that humans have progressed it so quickly and to such an extreme that Earth cannot support humans and other living organisms and our needs. The following diagram is a visual overview of how pollution causes climate change.
It’s undeniable that the environmental consequences of this process – pollution – are severe. We’re living it right now. And it’s only going to get worse. A few of the consequences we are already starting to see include:
If humans have caused climate change, can we stop it? Is there a solution to it? The good thing is, there are many things we can do to stop it from getting worse and maybe even bring down some of the CO2 levels in Earth’s atmosphere. One way is by planting trees. It sounds far too simple for a complex problem like climate change. Planting trees alone won’t solve all of our environmental problems, but it’s been proven to help in more ways than just decreasing CO2 levels. Planting trees will also help with restoring biodiversity; reestablishing ecosystems, helping increase endangered species populations, and even protecting coastal communities.
It’s basic biology that trees absorb carbon. And carbon is what we need to get rid of. The earth has the capacity to sustain another 900 million hectares of trees. On average, a mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of carbon a year. If we planted these trees, we would be able to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by 25%. That would bring atmospheric carbon levels down to Earth’s 1960 carbon emission rates. Think of how much better biodiversity, the quality of our air and water and land would be?
There are many solutions to help put climate change to a halt. Planting trees happens to be one of the cheapest, most realistic options with successful results. However, we will need to include this with further efforts to make a significant, positive impact on the environment. Consider planting a few trees in your yard this spring. Your individual efforts may be small but are nonetheless impactful!