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Scientist Who Urged Planting a Trillion Trees Begs People to Stop Planting So Many Trees

In 2019, ecologist Thomas Crowther initiated a global enthusiasm for tree planting as a means to counter carbon emissions. However, Wired now reports that the former chief scientific adviser for the United Nations’ Trillion Trees Campaign has reversed his stance, urging environmental leaders to cease their large-scale tree planting efforts.

During this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, Crowther highlighted the overlooked downsides of mass tree planting, including adverse impacts on biodiversity and the realization that trees may not be as effective in capturing carbon as previously believed. Most concerning of all, he cautioned that tree planting could serve as a justification for avoiding necessary emissions reductions, as quoted by Wired.

Crowther expressed regret, stating, “If no one had ever said, ‘Plant a trillion trees,’ I think we’d have been in a lot better space.” He acknowledged that while the attention on nature increased, it also led responsible scientists to correct misconceptions and transform the initiative into something beneficial.

In 2019, Crowther and his team released a potentially groundbreaking study suggesting that the Earth could accommodate an additional 1.2 trillion trees, presenting “global tree restoration” as the most effective climate change solution. Despite some criticism from scientists who deemed the paper optimistic in estimating carbon absorption and viable forested land, the optimism generated persisted. Trees seemed to offer a seemingly simple remedy to existential climate challenges.

Major oil companies, including Shell, seized the opportunity by committing hundreds of millions of dollars to reforestation initiatives. The viral sensation “Team Trees,” a social media campaign aiming to plant 20 million saplings, gained widespread attention and secured a million-dollar donation from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

By: Montana Newsroom staff

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