According to SEIA, the Solar Energy Industry Association, the reduction in CO2 emissions that the U.S. solar industry currently supports, equals the amount that could be reduced by 1.9 billion more trees. Everywhere think tanks and global economies are preoccupied with finding a solution to climate change and global warming. But what if we do not have to come up with an elaborate plan?Looking at the 2016 GHG (Greenhouse Gas) sector breakdown, roughly 11% of emissions are due to commercial and residential activities. In the U.S. alone there was a reported 126.22 million homes in 2017 and that number has been growing steadily (Statista, 2018). What if for every home there existed one tree?
( Solar Energy Industries Association, 2018)
According to National Geographic, the solutions within the recent IPCC report, to reduce our increasing emissions, which has currently increased by 1.5% in 2017, had everything to do with energy consumption reduction measures. While conservation and conscious living is a good solution, can we really shift our consumption habits that quickly? The drastic measure would require all homes and businesses to not simply reduce but eliminate use of fossil fuel in the next 30 years.
Well it turns out that reforestation can be as much of a solution for keeping rising temperatures of earth’s surface below 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit in by 2050 (Leahy, 2018). As stated by forest expert Deborah Lawrence, forests can remove 25% of CO2 from the atmosphere and if reforestation efforts were to improve, CO2 could be reduced by 18% by 2030. This is great news! So where are we when it comes to reforestation? In 2015 to 2016 we lost 493,716 square kilometers worth of trees, as reported by satellite imagery data (Guardian News and Media Limited, 2018). In 2015 we lost 198,295 square kilometers and in 2016 that amount increased to 297,000 square kilometers, which is a 51% increase. Deforestation accounts for 10 to 15 percent of global carbon emissions per annum.
But what if we could plant as many trees as we destroy in a shorter amount of time? Scientist Akira Miyawaki (above) is doing just that. He has planted 40 million trees utilizing a method called, “potential natural vegetation” (Eng, 2015). This methodology calls not for reforestation by human intervention and activities of planting trees. It is based on freeing up space to allow nature to freely self-seed. This process increases forest growth 10 times faster than replanting. The idea is that in 600 to 1,000 years species native the untampered area will return, and the plot of land will require no maintenance. Miyawaki’s strategy is not just practical but easily executable. What if we just left nature alone to reforest on its own?
Solar Energy Industries Associatio. (2018, December 9). Climate Change. Retrieved from Seia.org: https://www.seia.org/initiatives/climate-change
Eng, K. F. (2015, February 18). How to Grow a Forest Really, Really Fast. Retrieved from fellowsblog.ted.com: https://fellowsblog.ted.com/how-to-grow-a-forest-really-really-fast-d27df202ba09
Guardian News and Media Limited. (2018, December 6). Failing our forests: in two years we’ve lost enough trees to cover Spain. Retrieved from theguardian.com: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2017/dec/22/failing-our-forests-in-two-years-weve-lost-enough-trees-to-cover-spain
Leahy, S. (2018, October 7). Climate change impacts worse than expected, global report warns. Retrieved from nationalgeographic.com: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/10/ipcc-report-climate-change-impacts-forests-emissions/
Statista. (2018, December 6). Number of households in the U.S. from 1960 to 2017 (in millions). Retrieved from statista.com: https://www.statista.com/statistics/183635/number-of-households-in-the-us/