Earth, a barbie and the 40 trees
The World Climate monitoring body has announced 2015 will be the hottest since metrological records began. Atmospheric CO2 levels have now breached 400ppm (parts per million).
World leaders are meeting in Paris right now. Can they reach a meaningful accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions and move the world economy away from its fossil fuel energy dependence?
What can you meaningfully do to reduce CO2 levels? Plant trees? Then how many? Massey Emeritus Professor of Geography, and recipient of this year’s NZ Geographical Society Distinguished New Zealand Geographer Medal, John Flenley, posed this question to natural resource economist Dr Peter Read.
Peter’s answer: ‘‘Every person would need to plant 40 trees’’.
In his recently released book, Trees, Trees, Trees! (ISBN 978-0-473-32489-6) Prof Flenley explores that number and its significance. His book gives a balanced, concise and understandable explanation of climate change with references for those wishing to check sources.
But most importantly it examines the benefits and costs of planting trees.
John shows that if half of us living in the developed world each planted 2400 trees then, as they grow over the next 100 years, they would remove some 39 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, reducing CO2 by 16ppm. That buys some time to introduce the technology and make the lifestyle changes needed to solve the problem of increasing CO2 levels permanently.
Natural forest densities are around 1700 trees per hectare so our 2400 trees will require about 1.4 hectares – an area equal to one quarter of the Square. Right now public planting occurs in places such as Pit Park and Waitoetoe Park. A conversation to find more land is needed.
Can tree planting alone solve our global climate problem?
‘‘No, it is not a complete solution – but it will help.’’
Prof John Flenley and fellow A Rocha member Steven Close check out planting strategies that are outlined in John’s book,
Trees, Trees, Trees!.