Almost unnoticed by the media, distracted by impeachment and the drama of the Democratic presidential primary race, was a decision by President Trump while he was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Hill explains:
“President Trump on Tuesday announced the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative launched at the World Economic Forum as world leaders seek to combat climate change. Trump made the announcement during an address to global business leaders gathered for the annual event in Davos, Switzerland.”
Trump, to put the matter mildly, has been a skeptic of the climate change crisis, once calling it “a hoax.” In the same speech, he decried what he called “the prophets of doom” who claim that climate change is going to kill off the human race in ten to twelve years if it is not addressed with draconian measures, including the immediate ending of the use of fossil fuels.
Why did Trump sign on to a climate change initiative when he has been an outspoken skeptic of the phenomenon? It turns out that some Democrats have gotten some traction by touring climate change as an emergency that has to be addressed immediately. However, it turns out that the plan to plant a trillion trees is less costly and more effective than any schemes being advanced on the left such as the Green New Deal.
Reason Magazine explains further:
“The inspiration for the WEF’s Trillion Tree Initiative was a presentation at the organization’s meeting last year by Swiss ecologist Thomas Crowther who asserted that there is enough land to accommodate 1.2 trillion more trees. Currently, our planet is home to about 3 trillion trees. In July of last year, Crowther and his team calculated in Science that planting a little more than 1 trillion additional trees would significantly cool the earth by sequestering in growing trees about 25 percent of the carbon dioxide currently in the atmosphere.”
Crowther and his associates estimate that 800 million hectares or 3.5 million square miles are available for reforestation. The share for the United States would be 103 million hectares or 400,000 square miles. A trillion trees could be planted without affecting land use for such things as agriculture or urban growth.
The question arises, is such a plan even plausible. According to Reason, yes it is.
“The world may have reached global peak agricultural land in 2000, suggesting the more land is being freed up that could be restored to nature. In fact, a 2018 study in Nature reported the happy news that global tree canopy cover increased by 2.24 million square kilometers (865,000 square miles) between 1982 and 2016. That’s a rate of about 25,000 square miles per year. To plant a trillion trees occupying 3.5 million square miles by 2030—as outlined in the WEF proposal—would require a 14 times boost (350,000 square miles per year) in the rate of global forest expansion. Meeting that goal by 2050 would mean quadrupling the rate of forest cover expansion.”
Planting a trillion trees, even over 30 years, would be an immense undertaking, especially when using the old-fashioned method of people digging holes inserting seedlings, and covering with mulch. However, another method of planting trees exists that could speed up the process considerably.
According to Digital Trends, a company called Flash Forest has developed a tree planting aerial drone. The idea is to fly a drone over a parcel of land that has been slated for reforestation and fire seedpods into the ground, much like shotgun shells. The company estimates that it can plant a tree per second or 20,000 trees during a single day of operations.
Trees are not only great ways to scrub carbon dioxide out of the air, but they constitute a renewable resource. One can build homes and other products using wood.
The drawback is that these new forests are going to have to be properly managed. Wildfires can devastate wide areas, such as has happened in California and Australia.
Most experts who are not signed onto the Green New Deal believe that planting trees, along with gradual changes in the way we generate power such as turning to nuclear and carbon capture, is a sensible way to deal with climate change. By signing on to the trillion tree initiative, Trump now has an answer to his political opponents on the issue. Planting trees does not constitute destroying civilization to save it.