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Climate Change

15th Aug 2021

There’s now too much CO2 in the atmosphere that planting trees cannot save us

Danny Jones

There's now so much CO2 in the atmosphere that trees can't save us

Yet another chapter in ‘Just How F*cked is the Planet?’

For those who needed reminding, climate change has gone anywhere – it’s only gotten worse and everything we’ve done is too little too late. Thems the facts.

The latest in the long list of terrifying statistics is that there is now so much C02 polluting our atmosphere that planting trees cannot save the planet from the inevitable.

In fact, we reached this frightening threshold a while ago: Science Insider actually published the video below over three years ago and it makes for a truly foreboding watch.

As you can see, as tall an order as it may have been, there is no longer even enough space left on this doomed rock to plant the number of trees it would require for us to bring stop the Earth’s temperature from rising, let alone bring it down from its already dangerously levels.

Humans emit 30 billion to 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year – 100 companies being responsible for 71% of that, by the way – and if we allow the temperature to increase by another 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (15.7C), the ramifications will be huge and irreversible.

As authors Rob Ludacer and Jessica Orwig write, most scientists agree that we need a way to capture some of that CO2 out of the atmosphere – one idea being to plant a lot of trees but, according to studies, that is simply no longer a viable option.

In order to get emissions down to the necessary amount set out by the Paris Agreement, we would basically have to plant enough trees to cover the US just to capture 10% of our current CO2 emissions. Shit.

Once again, there is simply not enough free space on the planet to do this and deforestation is already a pressing problem in itself. For context, due to gradual deforestation and the sheer levels of pollution the Amazon rainforest – arguably the Earth’s most valuable and impactful biome – is now emitting more greenhouse gases than it absorbs. I repeat, shit.

It was only a few days ago that the UN declared the climate emergency “inevitable and irreversible” – as if that wasn’t blatantly obvious already. There’s a reason why people like Greta Thunberg continue to bang their drum louder than ever: we’re running out of time, folks. It’s that simple.

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