Also, one can plant fruit trees in their yard. I put in 6 last fall and plan to put in another dozen in the next 2-3 weeks. Over the winter I added about 6 truck loads of wood chips to the yard to reduce water usage. (My general feeling at this point from working with the soil is that the wood chips reduce watering needs by at least 80% here. This is a form of xeriscaping, if you're interested.) With all this food growing in the coming years we'll be taking fewer trips to the grocery store while eating better. And probably giving away and trading a lot of food - we're already starting to trade for eggs from a friend, for example.
My neighbors sometimes wondered why I don't trim it up and make it look "nice" right up to the water like some folks do.
I like it wild, lots of trees and wildlife. I even let the wildness take a bit more of the yard than when i moved in. A few big trees quickly sprung up, no maintenance (compared to a yard) it looks great wild.
Perhaps if only out of laziness (yard work is kinda a pain). A few other neighbors who were maliciously caring for their lawn right up to the marsh (well the area you can do that to legally) have done the same as I have and we've got a much larger wild area now. It's full of blue jays, finches, cardinals, rabbits, owl visitors. We even get visited by some beautiful red foxes from time to time (i suspect quite often but they are very sneaky).
The kids mostly play in the front yard anyway where I actually bother to do more yard work to make it looks nice so a big lawn in the back makes no sense if nobody is really enjoying it.
It's funny how urban adaptation affects perceptions of rarity. I live in fairly-central London and you can hardly set foot outside after dark without tripping over a red fox or three. Out in the countryside they're still pretty wary (with reason, since farmers will shoot them).
Are urban foxes a thing in the US too, or is this still a UK phenomenon?
California has some raccoons and coyotes. Haven’t seen foxes in cities, but we do have them in the countryside.
Really it is tameness that does it as they don't scatter before we even see them. The woods being quiet is because we scare the hell out of nearly everything, constantly walking on two legs like a bear ready to fight. Leave cameras behind and it gets noiser and more active.
I think you meant meticulously, but it works either way. :)
Really I think part of the cultural problem with home design environmentally - aside from the density issues is that so many don't even try to adapt to the environment and do daft things like trying to grow lush water thirsty grasses in the desert or cut away trees in areas that really need the drainage. They often do the equivalent of going around with a brazier of burning coals at 50F instead of putting on a jacket.
It takes a long time for best practices to become accepted and normal, and there just isn't the geneological inertia to develop that anymore
Some of the trees also attract rats, which drives my dogs nuts at night and is then a source of anxiety given the high crime rate in our country. Trees along the perimeter of the property have damaged the boundary walls, and other trees have ruined sewerage lines. If you want to plant trees, make sure you understand the potential future costs associated with them.
Seriously, I don't get the weird obsession with rooftop PV as if it's the only way to be green. PV is great, but, it doesn't work for every house. Personally, I have big oaks out front helping block passive solar windows in the summer, and the peak of my roof runs north-south so cell mounting would be tricky. That doesn't mean I can't get clean energy, it just means I buy it from a utility company, who are buying it from my neighbor's house where the orientation and canopy placement makes sense to do PV.
The backside of solar panels are actually quite pretty, and provide shade + partial rain barriers.
This would open up more avenues to passive cooling and also reduce the lock-step replacement of the house’s roof with solar panel installation .
Regardless of the environmental angle, having trees near your house is not worth it financially.
Most people I know go to great lengths to remove trees near their house. Some insurance companies lower premiums for it.
For any elevated property it adds a huge amount of value to kill a nice old established tree in the way of views.
According to many sources, but I will cite this one a single tree converts about 50 lbs of CO2 in a year. There are three trees on my property, a city tree (planted by the city) and two Birch trees planed by the original developer. All are deciduous so lose leaves in the winter but we'll give them full credit anyway, so call it 150 lbs of CO2 a year.
My rooftop solar system nominally puts out 5.2 kW of power under full sunlight, although efficiencies cut that down to around 4.8 kW net into the grid. I have over 10 years of data from the system, drilled down though it averages out to about 4.5 "solar hours" per day with an average daily output of about 22 kWH per day or about 8 MWH per year.
The US Energy Information Association (EIA) tracks a number of statistics, but the one that is most relevant is the number of metric tons of CO2 per MWH per state. You can see California's number in this report : https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/california/ is 474 lbs per MWH.
Using that number, my rooftop solar system "saves" (which is to say doesn't generate) about 3,792 lbs of CO2 a year. Which, is way more than the 150 lbs a year the trees are taking out of the air. This is why the 1.2T trees, or 160 per person, is such a large number. A family of four would need to plan 640 trees on their lot, which would remove 32,000 lbs of CO2, which is a lot. To match my solar panels I would need to plant an additional 76 trees.
What you can take away from that is that solar panels in places where you can't put trees are a solid alternative. And planting trees rather than letting unused land sit idle as a field of grass is also a good plan. As a home owner, solar, even in places where it won't generate all your energy needs, will help cut CO2 emissions.
An average U.S. household uses 830 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month. On average,producing 1000 kWh of electricity with solar power reduces emissions by nearly 8 pounds ofsulfur dioxide, 5 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and more than 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide.During its projected 28 years of clean energy production, a rooftop system with 2-year paybackand meeting half of a household’s electricity use would avoid conventional electrical plantemissions of more than half a ton of sulfur dioxide, one-third a ton of nitrogen oxides, and 100tons of carbon dioxide. PV is clearly a wise energy investment with great environmental benefits! -- https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy99osti/24619.pdf
Of course, this reasoning is limited to carbon effects only. There are other important ecological concerns that trees might address that solar would not.
A shade tree can reduce your need for electricity, but it can’t turn you into a net producer.
I’m making the explicit assumption that a shade tree will probably be fully grown.
And if you burn that wood, it's all released back into the air. Even if it just dies and decays, some of it ends up being released.
We already have amazing reserves of CO2, and we're digging them up and releasing them by burning them! Trees are just a tiny band-aid on top of this massive harm we're self-inflicting.
...an individual leaf might be peak out at 3% efficient, but it is operating just a portion of the year (maybe about a third to a half at full performance) and also much light gets reflected, absorbed by branches, or misses the leaves entirely.
Additionally, photovoltaics peak at 40% efficiency but get about 15-20% efficiency typically and can function the entire year (unless fully covered by snow). And they're displacing electricity produced primarily from fossil fuels which are burned at 30-40% efficiency.
Now from a top-down perspective: forests (in this case calculated by replacing cropland with forests) are estimated to sequester about 2 to 10 tons of CO2 per acre per year. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40562.pdf
In principle, an acre of about 40% solar photovoltaic system with a 25% capacity factor could produce about 3.5GWh per year. But typically, about exactly one tenth that is done in practice: 0.35GWh/year/acre.
Since you'd be displacing electricity from the US grid, which is currently about 420 grams of CO2 per kWh (based on my calculations of the most recent eia.gov figures, but you can find similar figures by Googling), that's equivalent to 147 metric tons of CO2 per acre per year for typical photovoltaics (and over 1000 metric tons per acre per year in the idealized case).
This person's calculations reach similar conclusions: https://www.solarpowerrocks.com/environment/installing-solar...
So absolutely, it's better to use solar panels than trees, at least until the grid is fully or nearly-fully saturated by solar.
...BUT once we fully clean the grid, trees have some advantages:
1) they efficiently suck CO2 out of the air and store it, not just produce the energy. That means you can actually draw-down CO2, producing negative emissions.
2) They're scalable. A tree is like a solar farm, CO2 direct air absorption system, and a chemical factory but can be planted as just a seed. It may not be "efficient", but being self-replicating and scalable is pretty powerful.
Also do you recommend any resources for a beginner to get started on the fruit trees? Soil prep, watering schedule, etc.
I am now living in Monrovia, Liberia, where you will often find large trees for shade, often mango, sometimes moringa or coconut. There's also a bougainvillea shading a bench in every village between Monrovia and Yekepa. :-)
Edit: I also want to mention the concept of agroforestry , a part of permaculture agricultural design principles, where trees (often fruit bearing) are used with lower vegetation, shrubbery and crops, creating a food forest. Incidentally, this is what farms often look like in West Africa, with coconut, banana, cocoa, papaya, cassava, etc growing intermingled on the farmland.
I live in Michigan and have four large trees surrounding the house, although we let their branches hang over the house, so 3 or so hours around noon, the house gets no shade.
Although not everyone is onboard. To be sure, there are still drab boxy houses with nothing but lawn that run their sprinklers every morning and the A/C all day. Preferable to spending two hours a year raking up leaves in fall, I'm told.
Prineville Oregon(I dont' know how many trees will be cleared for this, maybe it will be on existing farmland)
If the power could be used to create and concentrate ammonia, much of needed generation could be shifted to farms. Of course farms have other uses for sunlight, so wind is a better choice there.
Generating ammonia with wind power eliminates the problem of intermittent availability. You only produce ammonia when there is power for it.
To have low power losses in long distances, you use high voltage. The higher the voltage, the bigger (and more expensive) the "conversion points" need to be. Power losses will also be bigger.
To simplify greatly, having low-loss transmission lines costs more money, more equipment, more investment, more time. That's why it makes more sense to build the power source closer instead.
Anything I am going to squeeze into a comment on hacker news regarding the subject is likely to be. So are you against the concept of continent wide grids and transmitting power long distance from sparsely populated equatorial desert regions to the more populous temperate ones?
I'm especially eager to hear more about developments in / experiences with UHV DC lines, like in this ieee.org article + discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19295838
Overall, you're over-reaching with the RI claim that we're clearing forest for solar farms, as I've been local for decades and seen no evidence of that.
As for risk of accidents - nuclear is responsible for less deaths per MWh produced than coal, including all the accidents (Chernobyl and Fukushima too).
Coal powerplants also put more radioactive elements in the air than nuclear powerplants (including all accidents). And it's not "risk" in coal powerplants, it's their normal operation as designed.
Nuclear powerplants is the easiest way to replace baseload, and by insisting on not using it we increase the amount of radioactive elements in air, the deaths, and the CO2 emissions (because you can't replace most baseload with solar/wind - so if not nuclear it's coal/gas).
And a quote:
“Using historical electricity production data and mortality and emission factors from the peer-reviewed scientific literature, we found that despite the three major nuclear accidents the world has experienced, nuclear power prevented an average of over 1.8 million net deaths worldwide between 1971-2009 (see Fig. 1). This amounts to at least hundreds and more likely thousands of times more deaths than it caused. An average of 76,000 deaths per year were avoided annually between 2000-2009 (see Fig. 2), with a range of 19,000-300,000 per year.”
Thankfully its an academic debate now anyway, because solar and wind prices are already much cheaper with no end to their continued improvement in sight.
That's FUD. What are you proposing is going to happen that would be worse? You can't get a nuclear explosion; the fuel isn't weapons grade. You can get a meltdown and a hydrogen explosion, but that is what happened at Chernobyl. It leaves behind a hot mess and a large cleanup bill but hardly anybody dies. Especially if you're not an obtuse Soviet bureaucracy that dispatches ordinary firefighters to deal with it without adequate training or equipment.
> They consume alot of water resource as well, for cooling.
Water isn't "consumed", it starts off as H2O and ends up that way. It evaporates and then condenses again somewhere downwind.
One effort that stands out as "preventing something much worse" is that there was a risk of a potentially larger secondary explosion from steam buildup. They tunneled under the reactor and injected ~25 tons of liquid nitrogen a day (the tunnel started 6 days after the explosion, and was functional 8 days after the explosion). They had people risk/give their lives swimming in to close valves and pumping water out. Dates from here: http://www.chernobylgallery.com/chernobyl-disaster/timeline/
Also, you can absolutely get a nuclear explosion from a reactor, there is some suggestion that Chernobyl might have been a small one in fact (paper): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00295450.2017.1...
"For 36 hours after the explosion, people were given no reliable information about it and left virtually on their own. They never received instructions on how to protect themselves and their children. Radiation levels that according to Soviet laws were supposed to trigger an automatic public warning about the dangers of radiation exposure had already been recorded in the early hours of April 26—but were ignored by one official after another. Finally, people were asked to gather their belongings and wait on the street..."
A larger conventional explosion would have been linearly worse, not worse rising to a separate category of problem.
> Also, you can absolutely get a nuclear explosion from a reactor, there is some suggestion that Chernobyl might have been a small one in fact (paper)
This is not what I'm referring to. It's one thing to have a "nuclear explosion" in the sense that the reaction generates enough heat to cause the rapid expansion of gasses which is technically an "explosion".
What I'm referring to is the sort of exponential chain reaction that happens in a nuclear weapon, resulting in something on that scale. You have to design for that on purpose to get it. The density and geometry has to be exactly right.
An explosion that's too weak to even blow apart its own assembly doesn't count.
No offense but if you can't see how Chernobyl or Fukushima could have turned out worse, or that unexpected accidents in other locations could happen and could be worse, you don't understand nuclear power. Its problematic because I expect you have read plenty on it in order to want to defend it in a topic about aforestation.
"Water isn't consumed"
Water resource is consumed, sure it rains again - often far away and into the sea. Fresh water resources are scarce and under pressure in many places, ancient aquifers are drying out, particularly in the US.
I can't help but notice the lack of specific examples or explanations of any kind.
> Water resource is consumed, sure it rains again - often far away and into the sea. Fresh water resources are scarce and under pressure in many places, ancient aquifers are drying out, particularly in the US.
Ancient aquifers are drying out as a result of unsustainable resource management and climate change. Nuclear power helps with both of these, the first by providing power for desalination and the second by reducing carbon emissions. The amount of water it evaporates for cooling by comparison is a drop in the bucket. Also, the cooling can be done with seawater to begin with.
Because its so simple as saying, "the wind COULD have blown the fukushima fallout southwards over Tokyo instead of relatively promptly into the Pacific." A nuclear accident COULD deliver fallout to a highly populated area that cant be evacuated in time. A nuclear accident COULD generate much more fallout than Fukushima or Chernobyl. How can one understand the technology, and challenge the reality of such risks of nuclear power plants? Pretending that its been as bad as it might have been and as it could be - like a dangerous driver saying "its fine - I've only ever hit a tree!"
re: desalination - fine then, add the cost of desalinating salt water to replace the increasingly scarce resource that nuclear plants evaporate, to their already uncompetitive cost.
> The 400-page report, due to be released later this week, also describes a darkening mood at the prime minister’s residence as a series of hydrogen explosions rocked the plant on March 14 and 15. It says Mr. Kan and other officials began discussing a worst-case outcome if workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were evacuated. This would have allowed the plant to spiral out of control, releasing even larger amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere that would in turn force the evacuation of other nearby nuclear plants, causing further meltdowns.
> The report quotes the chief cabinet secretary at the time, Yukio Edano, as having warned that such a “demonic chain reaction” of plant meltdowns could result in the evacuation of Tokyo, 150 miles to the south.
> “We would lose Fukushima Daini, then we would lose Tokai,” Mr. Edano is quoted as saying, naming two other nuclear plants. “If that happened, it was only logical to conclude that we would also lose Tokyo itself.”
So the thing that actually happened with Chernobyl then, not something significantly worse than that.
> re: desalination - fine then, add the cost of desalinating salt water to replace the increasingly scarce resource that nuclear plants evaporate, to their already uncompetitive cost.
Evaporating the water is how you desalinate it. It starts as seawater, it evaporates, you recondense it as fresh water. The equipment needed to do that costs less than the value of the water; the major expense is generating the heat which you're already doing for power generation. So I guess we could subtract the net profits from producing that valuable side product from the cost of the power generation, sure.
Do we then get to add the costs of climate change to the cost of burning coal, or are we only attempting accurate accounting for nuclear and not anything else?
And sometimes ocean water is rained back on land. Hurray, water cycle!
Modern nuclear powerplants are much safer than these that had accidents.
Yes you have to include the possibility of new accidents - being sabotaged or not. But that possibility needs to be weighed with the probability of it. And it's very low.
Meanwhile we completely ignore the 100% sure deaths and radiation caused by coal powerplants. Because we're used to it.
BTW sabotaging hydro powerplants can kill hundreds of thousands of people at once. And it's much easier than sabotaging a nuclear powerplant. Get one diver with a swimsuit and give him some TNT.
Somehow I haven't seen this used as a counterargument to renewable energy :)
Its promotion was competing with and obstructing the promotion of renewables for over a decade past, but its moot now that in the past couple of years the price performance of renewables has become unassailable. There's no point promoting nuclear anymore and arguing about how safe nuclear has been or could be - its more expensive already than wind and solar, materially, environmentally, security-wise and economically. Wind and solar are still on a rapid improvement curve. Nuclear powered heat plants are not futuristic generation options, they're relics from the nuclear arms race.
This is not a case of of risk but uncertainty - very different strategies apply here.
Has large scale energy storage been solved? I know there are a number of ways to do grid-scale storage, but are any of them scalable enough to power the entire country from solar and wind? Especially if another "storm of the century" (which seem to be happening more frequently now) reduces solar/wind output from a significant portion of the country so you need to draw deep into storage reserves.
There are numerous technologies which can currently provide large scale energy storage at cost which is currently competitive in many situations and due to drop rapidly once they are actually required and built in quantity. To mention a few: flow batteries, hydrogen production and generation, carbon neutral biomass fuel, heat storage and conversion batteries including molten salt, enhancement of existing hydro schemes, online EV fleet, active geothermal... besides you know if pushed, even the occasional emergency fossil fuel burn if unprepared. Nuclear plants are not known for their uptime during storms either.
Current prices are detailed here, been dropping every year :
Do you have a source on this?
But I compared PER MWh PRODUCED, so it's nothing like with vending machines vs sharks.
> if 100% of our power came from nuclear, then so would 100% of the deaths per MWh.
If 100% of our MWh came from nuclear, and nuclear has less deaths per MWh - then some deaths would be avoided that now aren't.
How is that not important?
Honestly, your analogy was so bad it seems like intentional manipulation.
We have the tech to deal with nuclear waste, we’ve just never spent the money to productionalize it. Look into “sub-critical nuclear reactors”, which “burn” nuclear waste for even more electricity!
Wait, what? Really?
“With solar, people fall off roofs installing panels — the health and safety standards are not the same.”
Haha, didn't know that one.
Also yes, I'm sure waste disposal is factored into nuclear plants. It's usually coal plants that get the free pass to spew radiation into the air, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths annually.
(note that there is a fair amount of low-level waste generated that tends to inflate the waste output figures... you need to do something with the wrenches and shoe covers and stuff that get some neutron activation, and there's a large volume of that stuff but it's nowhere near as dangerous as spent fuel.)
There is no justification at skepticism and entertaining back-of-the-envelope gotchas about the climactic and environmental value of tree planting and enhanced forestry at this late stage. It needs to be supported !
" Reducing emissions from deforestation; reducing emissions from forest degradation; conservation of forest carbon stocks; sustainable management of forests; and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD) consists of forest-related activities implemented voluntarily by developing countries that may, in isolation or jointly lead to significant climate change mitigation. REDD was introduced in the agenda of the UNFCCC in 2005, and has since evolved to an improved understanding of the potential positive and negative impacts, methodological issues, safeguards, and financial aspects associated with REDD implementation. " (page 865)
More seriously, though: the article claims there’s “ample acreage” for such an endeavor but I didn’t see where exactly they’re referring to. Are we supposed to imagine these are sprinkled here and there around the earth, and that there’s plenty of space just waiting for a tree to be planted, or is this something where we need to create or re-create vast forest lands for it to work?
(The historical reason trees were absent from the great plains was periodic fire.)
It doesn't seem like a particularly practical solution.
I recommend watching the video - it explains it better and goes into detail - it cites its own sources.
So planting trees in deserts with somewhat decent access to underground water tables should help cool the planet and create a great renewable resource right?
Honestly if HN knows any charities focused on tree planting, let me know. Happy to donate 1k-ish if it puts 10k trees to our family’s name.
I've seen quotes for parts of developing countries where planting trees would cost $100 USD per thousands trees.
See FAQ point #11:
Presumably these would be some of the cheapest trees to plant. When that space is used up but the first few billion trees, where will the next billion go? How much will that cost?
Lack of water is a much more real blocker, with space not far behind.
The total suitable land area needed (more than the area of the USA, by my estimate) is much more likely to be the limiting factor than the per-person difficulty.
If over one year everyone planted 3 trees per week, and we employed a work force of people to cultivate them further, we would make a huge dent in our catastrophic risk exposure? Sure, it's seemingly impractical alongside the status quo of land distribution and use ( $$$ into develop all the land and farm humans for rent!!), but... more green will be good for the health of nearly all the living things on Earth, and at the very least give us more time to find even better solutions.
But planting is just the first step. If you own a growing forest it needs to be culled periodically, meaning that you cut down the worst performing 10-20% of all trees.
Is an 80 years' work in any case.
Earth's trees number 'three trillion'
"Scientific research has shown that there were once six trillion trees on our planet, and now there are around three trillion left. Human activity was the main driving force for this decrease and humans can, therefore, be the main driving force in increasing it again!"
source: Trillion Trees Three major international conservation organizations – the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the World Wide Fund for Nature - UK (WWF-UK) and BirdLife International (BLI)
We probably also need to remake the economic system what parameters it optimise's for, so that it does not focus on exponential economic output growth as that will drive exponential energy consumption. Reasoning, the planet is already literally on fire due to global warming, why put more fuel on the fire?
The actual presentation:
Under a business-as-usual climate scenario our model suggests that warming would drive the loss of ~55 gigatons of carbon from the upper soil horizons by 2050. This value is around 12–17 per cent of the expected anthropogenic emissions over this period.
I wonder how many of those 1.2T trees could be accomplished without starting huge new forests or in places that require irrigation.
There are cities in places with ample rain that already have 1,000's of vacant lots. Ten trees per vacant lot could start to make a big difference, if only regionally.
Maybe Americans should stop thinking of Arbor Day and the Arbor Day Foundation as quaint square leftovers from a past generation, and start thinking of them as a framework to save the planet.
I'd welcome two new trees in my front yard and two in the back, but my HOA won't allow it. I've already reached my maximum vegetation allowance.
I've seen this argument before, and I think the real place it falls down is that there just isn't that much space. For mature growth forest, you have something like 40-ish big hardwood trees per acre . Those are, to my understanding, the only ones that are really relevant because they make up most of the biomass. Other types of trees are just a rounding error. `1.2e12 / 40 acres -> square miles` (frink) is 4.7e7 square miles. That is more than the whole land area of Earth . There is certainly not enough land that would support mature forests available to plant so many trees, unless I have made a serious calculation error.
At any rate, if that's what the research is getting at, they probably need to title it differently, or explain early on that merely planting the trees is a necessary but not sufficient condition to achieve the wins they envision.
That said it could also:
- absorb some heat
- create new wind / rain cycles
- provides a lot of material (construction/furniture) to replace cement and plastics
- kill millions of people of exhaustion from planting that many trees
Also, more rain means more clouds, and this is something the current climate models can't really model accurately, believe it or not. There's not even "consensus" on whether clouds are beneficial or detrimental.
We'd probably have to sequester them somewhere anaerobic. Bottom of a deep-sea trench or underground. Which also reduces the net carbon footprint of the activity.
But! It's also important to consider what timber houses would replace - concrete. Concrete is not very climate friendly. Throwing that into the equation, I'd be surprised if wood construction wasn't better for the environment than what we're doing now.
Where I live (Kitchener-Waterloo), there are a lot of old factories with heavy timber frames and solid hardwood floors. These factories have since been converted into nice condos and commercial properties, with all of that wood preserved intact. The old timber beams and hardwood floors are actually very nice now.
Ironically, they grow much faster on the other side of the world (New Zealand) due to its wetter climate but the wood is not as hard due to this so they aren't useful in construction. Basically the ultimate carbon sync and useless for humans.
It worked 49 million years ago.
Trees have been around for a very, very long time; much longer than we have. Complex evolutionary forces have shaped trees and forests into their current robust configurations.
Trees are intimately connected with their ecosystems, and interact with their surroundings in both known and unknown ways. For example, it has been discovered recently that trees communicate with one another through chemical, hormonal and slow-pulsing electrical signals, including through the air, using pheromones and other scent signals 
Mother nature is complex. We do not have enough understanding of her complexity, and neither enough computational power to reliably model and subsequently change diverse ecosystems.
Luckily such recklessness is unnecessary.
This might be something you are referring to.
EDIT: I just looked it up: there are roughly 4-10 trillion trees on earth right now.
It's not the planting that counts, it's the leaving the trees alone.
And that's what's missing from the title (the "if we stop cutting down so many trees" part)
Any research or innovation on that front ?
Also looks like a similar project in Africa https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Green_Wall
Desert greening is essentially question of water availability and reversing soil erosion but you may also need the nutrients.
There have been many attempts in desert greening and oasification but they are expensive and have not been very successful in large scale. It's much easier to create a desert than do the opposite.
Many places we think of as ancient deserts were climax forests in historical times, such as Petra. It became desert when too many trees were cut.
I'm sure we could build aqueducts.
Also floating solar, with compressed-air energy storage in under-sea airbags (could work on hydro reservoirs too)
100 Billion trees.
So if every household in the UK planted a tree in their (often non existent) garden, that would be about 22 Million trees - or about 2 hours worth.
Holy fucking crap. that's a lot of CO2
No, our most powerful weapon against climate change is reducing human GHG emissions.
In my mind a solution needs to be implementable in a meaningful way by single actors. I'm not sure about the state of the art of direct air carbon capture, but for me it seems like a much easier solution. "Just" push X billion/trillion USD into an enormous plant somewhere in a dessert with access to solar/nuclear power and suck it up.
Maybe negative emission solutions will turn out to be not feasible anyways, and the best we can do is to focus our efforts on reaching close to zero new emissions.
At the current rate of growth, we're not that far from directly producing more heat than the earth can radiate into space.
Entertain my thoughts: Suppose you could have a tree X. It grows fast, is very water efficient and better at trapping sunlight and C02 than existing specifies. It’s wood grows straight and makes a great building material. We could plant billions of it in semi-deserts and it would terraform the land into a livable habitat.
Basically the promise is rather than planting trillions of trees, can we plant billions of 1000x efficient trees in places where current trees don’t exist.
Look up "terra nigra", invented in the Amazon basin.
anyone got any other suggestions for organizations to donate to to get trees planted fast ? Because I love trees regardless of whether they going to help save our home planet
they have Guinness record for most tree saplings planted in a day, over 28M planted so far.
Overall I believe that if a functioning carbon credit marketplace is established we can fund the whole green movement with a fraction of world GDP and might even end up creating a whole bunch of jobs doing it.
- according to 5 sec of googling
I'm the founder of Pachama (YC W19) where we're working to help make this market efficient and accountable.
Successfully completed in 2017
Still, every little helps.
Go through every forest on earth and cut down every third tree and sequester it so it won’t decompose and release the carbon. Then the forest rengerates itself and pulls all that carbon out of the atmosphere.
Or an idea for a billionaire. Buy out the entire worlds annual output of lumber and sequester it.
You could dump vegetables or corn in a hole though, but I've read that's not a cost effective solution either.
I'm tired of the jeremiad of gloom from Eeyore. Boastful optimism is tiring too, but somewhere in-between is a nice place. Can we have some realism tempered optimism in our kids ability to un-fuck-up the last 100 years? Please?
> Several analyses in the past few years suggest that these warming effects from forests could partially or fully offset their cooling ability.
What's consoling is that at least planting trees is unlikely to harm (although rapid tree plantation will certainly send ripples in the complex, inter-connected ecological chains).
The satellite images of continuing, and still accelerating, forestry loss were the most striking part of Attenborough's Climate Change prog for me.
Currently, we are paying them to cut down rainforests and plant oil palms, so that we can buy cheap oil from them.
If anyone fancies donating to plant a few 100 or 1000 trees https://donate.trees.org/campaign/trees-for-the-futures-eart... does good stuff for about 15c/tree. It doesn't take very much to cancel out your personal CO2 load that way. I donated I think $100 for 1000 trees a while back.
My money is on humans.
* It costs $0.50 per tree planted,
* trees absorb 1 ton of CO2 each,
* Teslas cost $15,000 more than regular cars
* Teslas emit 1 gallon of fuel less than regular cars per 25 miles (starting after 50,000 miles: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324128504578346...)
* 1 gallon of gas produces 20 lbs of CO2
* Cars will last 250,000 miles
Then we have Teslas saving us:
( (250,000-50,000) miles * 1 gallon per 25 miles * 20 lbs per gallon)/$15,000 = 10 pounds of CO2 saved per dollar spent on Teslas, compared to 4,000 pounds of CO2 saved per dollar spent on planting trees.
This is why I associate myself with climate skeptics despite their negative reputation. An economic analysis of climate change seems to suggest that the world will be worse off with climate change mitigation, as it's currently being practiced, than with climate change itself.
Edit: It's actually quite interesting to see that your username resembles the name of Bjorne Lomborg, a famous scientist who often makes arguments about the economics of climate change and comes to similar conclusions as I do.
There could be an even cheaper scheme for climate change mitigation that we haven't thought of (like stimulating plankton growth with iron, for instance).
And it's actually possible that the total cost of allowing climate change to progress unmitigated may actually be cheaper than 50 cents per ton of CO2; creating more fertilizer for farmland and building seawalls may become cheaper 100 years from now than the future growth-adjusted value of the proposed carbon-based tax credits.
How about creating giant floating tracts of mangrove trees. They’re naturally able to live in saltwater.
Maybe make the islands out of waste plastic.
That's about 150x smaller than most other estimates for the cost of carbon sequestration. I think your math is probably wrong.
I think the more important question is, can they scale that cost per tree planted? Hard to say until it's tried.
Also, my calculations assume 22 tons emitted by the average US resident.
That's....not very much at all. Global warming wouldn't be a problem if Jeff Bezos could fix it by himself.
“In the American system one billion is 1,000,000,000 and a trillion is 1,000,000,000,000 so one trillion is one thousand times one billion. In the British system one billion is 1,000,000,000,000 and one trillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 so one trillion is one million times one billion.”
“In British English, a billion used to be equivalent to a million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000), while in American English it has always equated to a thousand million (i.e. 1,000,000,000). British English has now adopted the American figure, though, so that a billion equals a thousand million in both varieties of English.
The same sort of change has taken place with the meaning of trillion. In British English, a trillion used to mean a million million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000,000,000). Nowadays, it's generally held to be equivalent to a million million (1,000,000,000,000), as it is in American English.”
Planting ecologically native trees back into their native land is the best way to minimize unintended consequences and just get this done.
Australia has announced a plan to plant a billion more by 2050 as part of its effort to meet the country’s Paris Agreement climate targets.
But perhaps we can find a way to make the Sahara into a forest? That’s about what it would take.
- Plant heliostat molten salt reactors in desert coastal areas (the concentrated solar kind)
- Use generated heat to desalinate water
- Use desalinated water to provide irrigation
- Plant (potentially GMO'ed) bootstrapping organisms to create a soil (greening)
- Plant trees
- Rinse repeat.
I mean, this is a great conclusion, but what are we supposed to do with it?
There are also recent studies that highlight some of the potential environmental impacts of large-scale terrestrial carbon removal as a primary mechanism for reversing the effects of climate change. Optimizing for sequestration means converting the most productive agricultural land or using even more natural land, devastating either food production or natural ecosystems, in addition to drawing heavily on water resources and fertilizers on a massive scale, risking other planetary boundaries. The more realistic scenarios risk both, albeit to less catastrophic degrees, but do so by decreasing potential sequestration and limiting its effects on global temperatures. Put a bit glibly, it's jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.
That's not to say that it isn't part of the solution. It is, as the first paper explicitly states in its conclusion, and "can significantly contribute as a “supporting actor” of the mitigation protagonist, if it gets started and deployed immediately." But it won't be a primary mechanism, nor will it reach anywhere near 1.2 trillion trees. Even the more limited "pertinent options available now, which include reforestation of degraded land and the protection of degraded forests to allow them to recover naturally and increase their carbon storage" need to be priorities.
Other geoengineering proposals, such as possible solar radiation management techniques, might extend the period during which we can use tCDR and other carbon removal mechanisms to mitigate past emissions beyond just slowing the rate of temperature increase. But without drastic emissions reductions in the immediate future, all of those possible options become more difficult, with even more deleterious consequences. Not to mention more expensive.
In other words, there's no easy or even optimal answer. Assuming, of course, that 1.2 trillion trees can be considered "easy."
This is the most provocative claim you make and coincidentally the one you don't back up with any evidence. The one article you post from phys.org (1) does not use the colorful and misleading language of CO2 'starvation' and (2) actually concludes the opposite of the less dramatic point (plants will be better off with more CO2):
> But, as we know, C3 plants waste a lot more resources at higher temperatures, so any increase in photosynthesis from rising CO₂ levels seems likely to be at least cancelled out by the effects of the global warming it will cause. And that's without factoring in changes to rainfall patterns such as more frequent droughts. Solutions that seem to be too good to be true generally are – and, for the moment, that still seems to be the case for the idea that CO₂ enhanced crop yields will feed the world.
However the idea of being in a CO2 'famine' was recently brought up by the head of the Presidential Committee on Climate Security, William Harper, and also does not seem to be backed by any evidence or the scientific community:
> "It's a silly argument," added Britton Stephens, a senior scientist in the Earth Observing Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in an interview.
> Both independent academic institutions and government agencies around disparate parts of the globe have concluded more carbon dioxide will "bring many negative impacts" to plant environments, Stephens emphasized. "If someone is going to claim it's good, it's incumbent upon them to show evidence." 
I mean just using common sense plants can and clearly have thrived with lower levels of CO2, before the far bigger threat of human deforestation decimated forests and plant life. The issue isn't whether plant life will be slightly better off with more CO2 or not, but what negative effects changing climate will have on crops, which could be catastrophic and is the point the phys.org concludes with.
This seems like just another flavor of a very similar climate change denialist argument that there was higher CO2 levels during previous glacial periods, also debunked .
Perhaps the confusion stems from my too-vague use of "we". Your "we" (understandably) refers to humans, who indeed stand much to lose by dramatic CO₂ swings. At least on a suitably mayfly time scale.
My "we" meant more "life on this planet", without as much anthropomorphic bias. Periods of increased warmth and easy access to carbon — the two are historically highly correlated, though not synonymous — are an overall boon to life, referred to as "warm periods", "climatic optimums", "life explosions", etc. This despite the ecosystem upheavals that accompany such large-scale climatic changes being detrimental to incumbent organisms. No argument there.
Coupled with the polarized political nature of the topic, I suspect this difference in "we" resulted in people reading too much into my comment, if you take the time to re-read it. My stance on short-term human-centric status-quo-preserving actions is probably not that different from yours, although I do find broader perspectives and facts helpful in framing rational discourse.
Also, the sole concern of the human species is the survival of the species. Of course we should try to ensure this survival in the most ethical way. Protecting the environment comes from those concerns. Climate change is a very big danger to our civilisation right now.
What's your point? We need more CO2 because... what?
Edit: I can't help but think your comment was sponsored.
If anyone wants more explanation of why we have this rule, I've written plenty at https://hn.algolia.com/?sort=byDate&dateRange=all&type=comme....
But we don't plant one carrot per second.