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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.

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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

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Animals

Scientists Thrilled by Discovery of Rare, Mammoth 400-Year-Old Coral

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A massive 400-year-old hard coral discovered on the Great Barrier Reef has scientists expressing their sense of surprise and excitement.

Named Muga dambhi by the Manbarra people, the Indigenous group who have traditionally taken care of the land, the “exceptionally large” brown and cream-colored coral is located off the coast of Goolboodi or Orpheus Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

It is believed that the coral was spawned some 421 to 438 years ago, meaning that its age predates the arrival of Captain James Cook and the advent of colonization in Australia, notes the Guardian.

The spectacular coral is about 35 feet wide and over 17 feet high, and is double the size of the nearest coral.

Scientists and members of the community participating in a marine science course discovered the specimen earlier this year.

While not the largest coral in the world, the huge find is of major significance to the local ecosystem, according to Adam Smith, an adjunct professor at James Cook University who wrote the field note on the find.

“It’s like a block of apartments,” Smith said. “It attracts other species. There’s other corals, there’s fish, there’s other animals around that use it for shelter or for feeding, so it’s pretty important for them.”

“It’s a bit like finding a giant redwood tree in the middle of a botanic gardens,” he added.

It is likely that the coral hasn’t been discovered for such a long time due to its location in a relatively remote and unvisited portion of a Marine National Park zone that enjoys a high degree of protection.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, no one has noticed, or observed, or thought it newsworthy enough to share photos, or document, or do research on this giant coral,” Smith said.

The coral is in remarkable condition, with over 70 percent of its surface covered in live coral, coral rock and microalgae. No disease, bleaching or recently deceased coral has been recorded on the specimen.

“The cumulative impact of almost 100 bleaching events and up to 80 major cyclones over a period of four centuries, plus declining nearshore water quality contextualise the high resilience of this Porites coral,” the field note added.

The specific coral has been given the name Muga dhambi, meaning big coral, out of respect for the Indigenous knowledge, language, and culture of the Manbarra Traditional Owners.

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Greenland Ice Washed Away as Summit Sees Rain for First Time in Recorded History

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For the first time in recorded history, torrential downpours of rain have struck Greenland’s icy summit nearly two miles above sea level.

Greenland, an environmentally sensitive island, is typically known for its majestic ice sheet and snowy climate, but this is fast changing due to a massive melt taking place this summer.

However, the typical snowfall has been replaced in recent years not simply by a few showers, but by heavy rainfall. The torrential downpour last week was so huge, in fact, that it washed away a terrifying amount of ice across some 337,000 square miles of the ice shelf’s surface, reports Earther.

Temperatures at the ice shelf had simultaneously warmed to a significant degree, with the summit reaching 33 degrees Fahrenheit – within a degree above freezing and the third time that the shelf has surpassed freezing temperatures this decade.

The fact that rain is falling on ice rather than snow is also significant because it is melting ice across much of southern Greenland, which already saw huge melting events last month, while hastening rising sea levels that threaten to submerge whole coastal cities and communities.

To make matters worse, any new ice formed by the freezing rainwater will not last long. The ice shelf currently existing on Greenland was formed by the compression of snow over innumerable years, which shines bright white and reflects sunlight away rather than absorbing it, as ice from frozen rain does.

The huge scale of the melt and accompanying rainfall illustrate the growing peril of rapidly warming climate conditions across the globe.

“This event by itself does not have a huge impact, but it’s indicative of the increasing extent, duration, and intensity of melting on Greenland,” wrote Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado. “Like the heat wave in the [U.S. Pacific] northwest, it’s something that’s hard to imagine without the influence of global climate change.”

“Greenland, like the rest of the world, is changing,” Scambos told the Washington Post. “We now see three melting events in a decade in Greenland — and before 1990, that happened about once every 150 years. And now rainfall: in an area where rain never fell.”

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South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash

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What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?

It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.

The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.

The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.

“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”

The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.

Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.

Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.

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