Here’s How Many Trees It Would Take to Cancel Out Climate Change

Written by Ilana Strauss

Trees are the Earth’s way of soaking up our carbon.

If you wanted to plant enough new trees to absorb all the carbon people emit, guess how many you’d have to plant. Go ahead, guess.

1.2 trillion new trees.

At least, that’s the number Thomas Crowther, a professor and scientific advisor to the UN, came up with. He and his colleagues used machine learning to calculate just how many trees we could plant to soak up our carbon dioxide.

“There’s 400 gigatons [of carbon] now, in the 3 trillion trees, and if you were to scale that up by another trillion trees that’s in the order of hundreds of gigatons captured from the atmosphere – at least 10 years of anthropogenic emissions completely wiped out,” he said.

Planting trees is great, but I can’t help thinking we also need to stop chopping down forests in the first place. When you chop down a tree, you destroy the entire ecosystem that depended on it. Planting a new tree doesn’t bring that back.

And right now, forests are being decimated. The Amazon rainforest, for instance, is being destroyed largely thanks to the Brazilian cattle industry.

“The cattle industry is the single biggest cause of deforestation in the world and is a disaster for the fight against climate change,” said Sarah Shoraka, a Greenpeace campaigner. In fact, Greenpeace found cattle ranching is responsible for 80 percent of all Amazonian rainforest destruction.

It’ll take legislation to stop that, but individuals can help by doing things like eating less beef or switching to more sustainably “grown” beef (or at least not buying beef from Brazil).

This post originally appeared on TreeHugger.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

81 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad A20 days ago

Thank you.

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heather g
heather g28 days ago

When a tree is cut, people don't take the underground links into account - not only fungi but birds up above and oxygen.

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Maria P
Maria P28 days ago

Just tried Ecosia. Brilliant!!

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Victoria P
Victoria P29 days ago

Use Ecosia at: https://www.ecosia.org/ A search engine that uses their profits to plant trees. I tried it at the suggestion of other C2 members and am glad that did.

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Carole R
Carole R29 days ago

Scary. Plant trees.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner29 days ago

Force Trump and his Rethugs to plant those trillion trees.

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Shae L
Shae Lee29 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

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Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

Plant more trees,bush,flowers.If you can,plant an edible garden,plant your own herbs and spices.Don't plant "traditional gardens with grass" in the desert,xeriscape instead.
Trees are actually important,but every plant can help a tiny bit.Thanks for sharing

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Lorraine A
Lorraine A29 days ago

We definitely need to start replacing all these trees we are cutting down, not just for cattle farming, and palm oil but look at the forests that get cut down to create our urban housing developments!! It needs to stop.

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Barbara S
Barbara S29 days ago

Use Ecosia. It really helps.

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