Trillion Trees

By: Tara Kavasseri
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Plant for the Planet

Three trillion trees exist on Earth. On average, the planet loses ten billion every year. Tom Crowther, who conducted the first “tree census,” was inspired to undertake this study because of a teenage boy.

This boy, Felix Finkbeiner, is currently nineteen years old. When he was thirteen, he had already launched his own organization, Plant for the Planet, dedicated to slowing global warming by planting trees. According to National Geographic, he had also delivered a speech to the UN in New York, prompting the UN to ask Felix to supervise their Billion Tree campaign.

    When Crowther and his team finished the tree census, they were shocked to find that the world actually has three trillion trees. Annually, nearly ten billion are lost. When Crowther shared these results with Felix, he was worried that the boy would be discouraged to realize that the fourteen billion trees he’d planted did not make a dramatic difference. Instead, Felix, along with the rest of Plant for the Planet, raised their goal to one trillion trees, or “150 for every person on the Earth,” according to National Geographic. Annually, an additional one trillion trees has the capability of absorbing ten billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

    Just this year, Felix’s organization has launched an app simply titled Plant-for-the-Planet that is tracking fifty of the organization’s reforestation projects. Individuals can donate a small fee to plant a tree in a specific project of their choosing. European Sting says, “For just over $3, you can ‘plant’ a tree in Brazil, or for $108, you can plant 1,000 trees to restore the landscape of Indonesia.”

    A similar reforestation app called Ecosia has recently been gaining popularity. Ecosia is essentially a carbon-negative search engine. It is like Google, but every time someone looks something up, Ecosia removes an estimated 1 kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by planting trees. Sierra Club states that “On average, it takes 45 searches to plant a tree.” A German-based team created this app, and as a result, it is more popular in the UK than it is in the U.S. However, its user numbers have recently skyrocketed, possibly due to the awareness surrounding the Amazon fires, and Ecosia was able to raise over half a million dollars for reforestation in one month. Eighty percent of Ecosia’s profits goes to planting trees, and to certify that the company is mission-driven rather than profit-driven, the founder, Christian Kroll, legally certified that they would never be able to sell the app to a third-party group for profit.

    The news and social media contain a lot of negative news regarding the environment, and it can be difficult to stay hopeful about the future. Luckily, reforestation is a straightforward method to buy the planet more time until people are ready to change policies. Plant for the Planet and Ecosia are only a few of the organizations that are taking a stand and giving people simple ways to help their home.