Rarely do silver bullets actually exist; the truth resists simplicity. Tree planting often looked at as a cheap, effective, and catch-all solution to combatting carbon emissions, but that just isn't true. It's two of those things, sure, but it's not all we need to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of planting trees to help trap and store carbon emissions, but it can't be the only thing we do.
Earlier this morning, I watched a video from The Economist which covered the topic pretty well (there's even more videos and information in the linked article). While the through-line of the video is that tree planting, when done correctly, can have huge benefits and help combat climate change, Professor Simon Lewis drives home a really sobering point right at the end (emphasis mine):
Ultimately though, the trouble with trees tackling climate change is space. There’s just not enough land in the world to plant enough trees to offset all the carbon emissions from fossil fuels. We could say, let’s restore forest on every single piece of land that used to have forest on from before agriculture. And if we did that it would be about 200bn tonnes of carbon. Now that sounds a lot, but to put it in context, that’s about 20 years worth of emissions at present rates.
- Professor Simon Lewis
So go ahead, plant trees.* Just know: we need a lot more than just trees.
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