Current Event: Massive Tree Farms May Be A Really Bad Climate Idea

By: Marianne Lavelle

Published February 10th, 2016

In the wake of the Paris Climate deal’s goal, countries are resorting to costly and large scale projects to soak up carbon emissions, and some of their plans include large scale tree planting, and other large scale mitigation projects. This article discusses how the mitigation of carbon emitted by nations is a complex issue and cannot simply be solved by small scale issues, not if nations want to meet their agreed carbon emissions in the Paris Climate deal.

Phil Williamson, an environmental scientist from the U.K., discusses that in order to meet the Paris deal on carbon emissions by planting trees on a large scale it would take 430-580 million hectares of land to accomplish this. This amount of land would cover about 1/3 of the arable land on earth or in terms of the United States, it would cover 1/2 the land in the U.S. This land conversion into large scale uniform tree farms will ultimately lead to a loss of terrestrial species, but in contrast to this disappointing finding he also came to the conclusion that one way to increase the carbon sequestration of the soil plowing biochar into agricultural plots. Also providing the earth with a higher albedo and greater heat absorption by the earth.  In order to counteract that Williamson also came up with the idea of adding pulverized reflective rock-like silicate to the soil surface to reflect more light away from the surface, and ultimately decrease the absorption of heat by the planet.

-Ashley Tims

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