Action to limit COVID-19 transmission has had the valuable side-effect of reducing greenhouse gasses and air pollution. There has been a significant reduction in air and car travel. Travel contributes about 20% of all greenhouse gas emission (it varies between countries). Also, there is less electricity consumed by businesses.
The shutdowns will eventually end but now we have a rare opportunity to lock in and magnify the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
As well as reducing current greenhouse gas emissions, we need to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which was emitted by human activity in the past. Trees are currently the only technology for doing this and many trees were lost in the widespread bushfires of 2019-20.
“In addressing climate change, few actions are as critical, as urgent, or as simple, as planting trees. It literally reverses the process that has led to climate change”.
The future we choose: surviving the climate crisis, by Christiana Figueres & Tom Rivett-Carnac.
Trees provide food and habitat for animals. They provide shade and cooling. They also recycle rainwater – they pump water from the ground into the atmosphere.
The impact of trees on carbon dioxide sequestration is huge, as indicated by how much was released in Australia’s tragic bushfires in the summer of 2019-20.
“Australia’s bushfire crisis burnt about 7.4 million hectares of temperate forests and released 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, an amount almost double the nation’s annual emissions from energy, industry and transportation.
The extra emissions will not be counted towards Australia’s Kyoto and Paris agreement targets, however, because it is assumed the CO2 will be reabsorbed by trees as they regrow”. The Australian 21 April 2020.
We need to accelerate that reabsorbing, by planting many more trees, because the extra emissions do count towards global atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change.
We should plant as many trees as we can – either on our own properties or by paying for them to be planted elsewhere
There are many organisations which will plant trees on our behalf, via donations which are usually tax deductible. Here are some: