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Planting a Trillion Trees is Fastest, Cheapest Way to Reverse Climate Change: Study

Scientists are now urging the world to plant billions of trees wherever possible.

Elias Marat

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Reverse Climate Change Tree Planting
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(TMU) — Researchers have long warned of the dangers of climate change, which has seen ecological conditions degrade as weather patterns grow more unpredictable. And now, scientists are urging the world to plant billions of trees wherever possible as the cheapest and most effective way to handle the climate crisis.

According to the new study published in the journal Science, planting about a billion trees across the globe could remove two-thirds of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide—approximately 25 percent of the CO2 in the atmosphere—creating a vast natural means to trap and store the emissions in an affordable and politically non-controversial manner.

The researchers say the Earth has room for over 1 trillion additional trees that can be planted in abandoned lots, woodlands and parks across the globe as part of a new worldwide planting initiative that would remove a large portion of heat-trapping emissions from the atmosphere.

Professor Thomas Crowther, a climate change ecologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who led the research, told the Associated Press:

“This is by far—by thousands of times—the cheapest climate change solution.”

Crowther also stressed the urgency of taking action, given the devastating effects and rapid progress of climate change, noting that tree planting would have a near-immediate impact, since trees remove carbon at an early age.

The ecologist said:

“It’s certainly a monumental challenge, which is exactly the scale of the problem of climate change.”

Crowther’s laboratory used Google Earth mapping and data from the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative to gain an accurate understanding of the current global tree count. The initiative relies on the efforts of ground-level volunteers, 1.2 million monitoring locations across the globe, satellite imagery, as well as tens of thousands of soil samples.

The information, paired with machine learning and artificial intelligence, allowed Crowther’s lab to identify a figure of three trillion trees on Earth—more than seven times the amount estimated by NASA.

It also gave Crowther’s team the ability to predict how many trees could feasibly be planted across the globe.

According to the study, an area of trees roughly the size of the United States could scrub 205 billion metric tons of carbon emissions—out of the roughly 300 billion metric tons of carbon pollution spewed into the atmosphere over the past 25 years.

The countries with the most available room for reforestation include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Russia, and the United States. According to the study’s lead author, Jean-Francois Bastin, there is space for at least 1 trillion more trees, and potentially 1.5 trillion on top of the 3 trillion trees on the planet.

Bastin said:

“Governments must now factor [tree restoration] into their national strategies.”

Unfortunately, not all governments appear willing to grow their forests. For example, Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch’s Program Director, told MintPress News that Brazil’s “Bolsonaro has overseen the most significant rollback of, and full-on assault on, human rights and environmental protection in Brazil since the fall of the country’s military dictatorship and the reinstallation of democracy in 1985.” The country has seen a sharp escalation in illegal logging and land theft since Bolsonaro came into power.

Tropical areas could enjoy total tree cover, while others would have sparser coverage—effectively meaning that on average, around half the globe would be under tree canopy.

Crowther told the Guardian:

“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one.

What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”

The professor also stressed that it still remains crucial to halt deforestation and reverse greenhouse gas and carbon emissions to zero, if possible, while we still have the time. Crowther added:

“[Tree planting is] a climate change solution that doesn’t require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

It is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved.”

But not all scientists are convinced by Crowther’s study. Martin Lukac, a professor from the University of Reading, remains skeptical, noting:

“Planting trees to soak up two-thirds of the entire anthropogenic [human-caused] carbon burden to date sounds too good to be true. Probably because it is.”

While Myles Allen, a professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford, said:

“Yes, heroic reforestation can help, but it is time to stop suggesting there is a ‘nature-based solution’ to ongoing fossil fuel use.  There isn’t.  Sorry.”

Some groups have taken matters into their own hands, with or without supporting research. For example, as the Mind Unleashed previously reported, a Sikh initiative called The Million Tree Project aims to plant one million new trees throughout the world, with tens of thousands already having been planted.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Animals

As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists

Elias Marat

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The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.

However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.

While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.

The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.

The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes –  but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.

“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.

To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.

However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.

These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.

The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.

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Environment

Japan Says Dumping Fukushima Radioactive Water in Pacific Ocean is Now “Unavoidable”

Elias Marat

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While Japan last month marked the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami with solemn ceremonies, the government has also been stressing the successes of its recovery efforts in the country’s northeast.

In truth, however, the country is still coping with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, which has already cost Japan trillions of yen and whose exclusion zone will require up to 40 more years to fully rehabilitate.

And with contaminated water continuing to build up at the ruined Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says that the government must finally begin dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.

With nuclear waste and fuel rods still contaminating the area, over one million tons of radioactive waste water continue to seep from the facility, according to The Japan Times, forcing authorities into what Suga describes as the “unavoidable” position of having to dump the water.

Officials claim that the water would be purified to the maximum extent possible, but environmentalist groups like Greenpeace warn that the water contains hazardous material that could damage human DNA and the health of marine life.

Fishers also fear that consumers will refuse to buy fish caught in contaminated waters, worsening their plight amid a restriction of imports from Fukushima prefecture imposed by 15 countries and regions.

Regardless, authorities argue they must deal with the cards that have been dealt.

“What to do with the [treated] water is a task that the government can no longer put off without setting a policy,” Japanese trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said on Wednesday.

Suga is expected to formally decide on the course of action by next Tuesday. If he proceeds, authorities will dilute tritium to 2.5 percent of the maximum concentration allowed by the country before it is dumped.

But while Japanese officials say that the water will be safe, it remains an open question whether people will trust their word.

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Environment

Crowds Flock to Lava-Spewing Volcanoes in Italy, Iceland and Guatemala to Get Closer View

Elias Marat

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The year 2021 has so far been a particularly active time for volcanic eruptions. In February and March, three spectacular volcanic eruptions have occurred: the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland, Mount Etna in Italy and Pacaya in Guatemala.

In each case, the eruptions have drawn large crowds of curious onlookers and sightseers.

In vivid video captured at Fagradalsfjall volcano on April 1, lava can be seen being spewed as amazed onlookers can be heard in the background. According to local reports, tens of thousands of people have been drawn to the area to view the eruption.

Iceland’s authorities are not anticipating evacuations due to the mile-and-a-half distance from the nearest road.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and as of now it is not considered a threat to surrounding towns,” said Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. “We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe.”

Italy and Guatemala have also experienced a few volcanic eruptions this year.

On March 7, Sicilian villages were showered with ash and lava stone following the eruption of Mount Etna, which began its highly active phase in February.

The Pacaya volcano lying 30 miles south of the Guatemalan capital has also been extremely active since February.

Pacaya’s peak typically attracts tourists, but hikes are temporarily on hold due to the uptick in activity. Pacaya has a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, whose lava flows in a 2018 eruption killed at least 110 people and left rougly 200 missing.

While volcano tourism provides a steady source of income for villages like nearby San Francisco de Sales, locals must balance this with the need to ensure their long-term safety.

So far, however, Pacaya has not yet injured locals.

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