We Have Room to Add 35% More Trees Globally to Store 580-830 Billion Tons of CO2

There is enough room to plant another 1.2 trillion trees on Earth. If we plant 1.2 trillion trees this could cancel out the last 10 years of CO2 emissions and sequester 160 billion tons of carbon. CO2 has a molecular weight of 44 versus 12 for carbon. So this would be 587 billion tons of CO2. Another study from the journal Science indicates that added trees could store 830 billion tons of CO2.

The additional trees could be cut down in 20 years and the wood stores the CO2 unless they decay or are burned. Another batch of trees could be grown. If a breed of faster growing trees are used then every 12-15 years a batch of a trillion trees would offset all of the CO2 produced by civilization.

Above – Potentially possible tree density: Additional trees in yellow. (image: Crowther Lab / ETH Zurich)

“There is 400 gigatons now, in the 3 trillion trees, and if you were to scale that up by another trillion trees that’s in the order of hundreds of gigatons captured from the atmosphere – at least 10 years of anthropogenic emissions completely wiped out,” Crowther said.

They using machine learning and AI to analyze an enormous data set which allowed the researchers to predict the number of trees that could feasibly be planted in empty patches around the world.

There is a trillion tree campaign set up by the UN.

Additionally, we are now starting to understand an even bigger carbon pool in the soil. As the global temperatures rise and the soil warms, a predicted 55 gigatons of carbon stored in the Earth’s soil could be emitted into the atmosphere – roughly the equivalent carbon emission of the U.S. per year. With no soil restoration activities, like planting cover crops, this will accelerate the rate of climate change by up to 17%.

Researcher Thomas Crowther and team used the largest global dataset of forest inventory data (the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative), measured by people on the ground in over 1.2 million locations around the world, combined with satellite observations, to get a mechanistic understanding of the global forest system. They use an equivalent database for below-ground ecology (the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative), with tens of thousands of soil samples that describe the global patterns in the biomass and diversity of the global soil microbiome, paired with satellite data to generate a first glimpse at the billions of below-ground species that determine soil fertility, atmospheric composition and the climate.

Using this combination of above ground and below ground data they can identify regions of high priority for biodiversity conservation. Additionally, we can finally start to understand the feedbacks that determine atmospheric carbon concentrations over the rest of the century. We now understand that, as the soil warms, carbon emissions from the soil will increase, particularly in the high-latitude arctic and sub-arctic regions.

SOURCES – Trillion Tree Campaign, institute für integrative biology – Crowther Lab, youtube
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

28 thoughts on “We Have Room to Add 35% More Trees Globally to Store 580-830 Billion Tons of CO2”

  1. I’m aware, of course. In order for Europe and North America, the “Global North”, to increase their forest cover, all the intensive exploitation has to happen elsewhere, in countries like Brazil, in the “Global South” . Any intention for protective measures from those countries would immediately be perceived as “barriers to free trade” and probably economical sanctions will be raised upon them. It is no surprise that power elites from the West praises someone like Bolsanaro for example. I’m also aware of the exploitation, at comparable levels, that happened in the USSR. But as I grew up in a communist country from eastern Europe I remember very well the obsession that was with increasing economic production no matter what that resulted in a very similar dynamic of extraction and set of consequences

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  2. Could it be possible that the earth itself is a living organism? If it were, wouldn’t more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere facilitate a warming that cause polar melt. That polar melt would increase the surface area of the oceans and more evaporation. With more water vapor more precipitation over the land masses and more plants would grow. Plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, when the plants overproduce the carbon dioxide level diminishes plants die off and the polar ice caps return. Maybe its a cycle or the earth’s core temperature is rising, just a thought.

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  3. Donald Trump have an open goal in the match on climate politics and he knows it.

    What will you doomsday believer do about that?

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  4. Development is good for the environment.

    We could have already factorized ourselves out of the biosphere with nuclear energy. We don’t because we are afraid of it, and due to political manipulation/choice.

    But we are progressing, nevertheless. Making our habitats denser and our requirements of land less and less.

    With vertical farming, meat cultivation and future megalopolis, plus any energy breakthroughs we develop along the way, humanity will reduce its ecological footprint even more.

    We could go even further across decades and centuries, by enclosing ourselves in arcologies and artificial environments, both above and underground, exploiting the population density increase of 3D spaces. In this way Earth could potentially host hundreds of billions of people and not be full, with a lot of greenery and open spaces to enjoy. And that without taking into account we can start sublimating ourselves out of Earth altogether, by moving offworld in the far future.

    The way is clearly forward, not backwards to a pastoral fabled past that never was.

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  5. Why dealing with the rice of CO2 when no one can detect a singel milliwatt increased greenhouse effect from it?

    If level over 300 ppm make higher greenhouse effect it would show in earth out radiated spektra.

    Just CO2 work as greenhouse gas in 15µm wavelength and the level CO2 varies much between region and seasons so if there was a increased greenhouse effect as function of higher CO2 it would give a signal that follow.

    Is that so hard to understand?

    To that the global climate are in an ice age and the 2 C warmer in beginning of this interglacial would not help life on planet to the more life friendly global climate before.

    Don´t you wonder why temperatures differences start to increases for 40 million years ago so the global climate get in this ice age 2,6 million years ago?

    I have my theories to plate tectonics that hindren ocean from level temperatures.

    You write as an understanding man, I wonder how you think knowing that CO2-treat is a scam?

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  6. I have seen the claim that planting trees over a region increases rainfall there. If there is anything to that, we have a solution to the problem.

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  7. And in related news, a recent study found that LARGE “mystery blooms” of phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean, the origin remains unknown exactly. Basically, huge phytoplankton blooms pop up every few years-to-decades in the Southern Ocean, requiring tens-to-hundreds of thousands of tons of iron injected. 

    Where’s it coming from?

    Simple answer: undersea vulcanism.  

    The Pacific Rim of Fire runs from the tip of South America, up thru México, California, the Cascades and Canada, to Alaska, around and thru the Aleutian Isands, Russia, Japan, and so on eventually to New Zealand, no. It also extends deep around the arc to the Southern Oceanic Abyss, one of this planet’s most life-deserted great bodies of water.  

    And being one of the geologically newer Rim of Fire regions, it is undergoing quite a bit of undersea vulcanism, all in all.  

    So, a volcano erupts thousands of meters below the surface, sending great iron rich plumes of heated sea water slowly up to the surface, wherein the fertilization does its trick, and phytoplankton (and the whole food chain) blossoms and thrives. 

    It really is a model for how we could be “dealing” with the rise of CO₂, folks. We have millions of tons of ferrous sulfate building up at most-every titanium dioxide (“white pigment”) plant, worldwide. Just waiting to be comported to the great Southern Ocean, and spread out.  

    10,000 : 1 CO₂ entrainment ratio, too.  

    Worthy?
    I’d say!

    GoatGuy ✓

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  8. Climate activists will absolutely not have solutions or CO2 potential to increase greenhouse effect over 300 ppm in earth atmosphere tested scientifically.

    Climate politic is the solution when other taxes cant get higher and the solution to gain power in non government organisations out of reach for ordinary people when the fourth industrial revolution take power from many workers away.

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  9. The number of trees means very little by itself: what is considered a tree? Including any seedling, or only large trees?
    What really counts here is the potential area available for tree planting. And under which locational conditions (climate, soil).

    And then, as obvious from basic biology, it is mainly useful if those trees are then NOT burned or cut and left to rot (in both cases releasing the CO2 back to the atmosphere), but kept alive or even better: the wood stored and new trees planted.

    And 160 GT is not 10, but only 5 years of global CO2 emissions.

    So, tree planting is definitely a good contribution, but not the silver bullet.

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  10. Why did earth temperatures differens start to increase so the global average temperature get lower 40 million years ago?

    Look att plate tectonics and se how the sea circulation get less over the north pole, and open water is the best function to reduce temperatures differences.

    You all know that temperature differens giv the average temperature not changed greenhouse effect?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLahVJNnoZ4&t=271s

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  11. Perfect, then the global average temperature goes upp though desert radiate more energy to space than forest.

    I wonder if climate activists or in this chase Brian Wang, have learn physic?

    I´m for a warmer global climate and human have two metods to contribute, non is more greenhouse effect especially not from CO2 for the fact that the molecule has don its job with much lower level than 400 ppm.

    That´s why no one have been able to detect a signal that follow the level CO2 in the wavelength where only CO2 act as greenhouse gas 15µm.

    The best method to create a warmer global climate is to plant forest and plantages in alla warm desert.

    Early in this interglacial was Sahara green (7% mor effect on the norther hemisphere in its summer gave ice free arctic sea and more rain in Sahara) and the global average temperature was 2 C higher than today, 6 C warmer on Svalbard for example.

    Before this ice age there was tropic climate over most continents except Antarctica.

    The other method is cloud seeding and that in the morning so more sun effect get to earths surface.

    Most life friendly global climate have 5-10 C higher average temperaturen than now.

    Why did temperatures differences get bigger for 40 million years ago with started this ice age 2,6 million years ago?

    The sun increase its effect with 1% per ruffly 150 million year so long before the end of earth there will be end end to this ice age.

    My personal theory is plate tectonics.

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  12. Some of those areas look like hurricane zones. Some trees dont seem to last in those areas. There is already a solution to a co2 problem. They just dont want to implement it. Not sure why.

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  13. Then, okay, we plant more trees, store 160 billion tonnes of CO2, and then add iron fertilization of the oceans, problem solved…. As long as we reduce new GHG emissions as well…

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  14. You are aware that Europe and North America have been increasing their forest cover for decades now, while say the USSR had extensive clearing?

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  15. I know this is an old idea but they could have been sequestering co2 for decades now. The idea was to take all the leftover biomass from crops (corn, soybeans) and pretty much just bury it. That would be millions of metric tons there every year.

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  16. Again, tree planting is a great solution. But you need a profit incentive or it won’t happen, no matter how bad the future climate is forecast to get. People must vote for government policies that establish such a profit motive. The fundamental challenge with climate change is political, not technological.

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  17. If carbon offsets provide a return then it will happen. You just need a cap and trade system or tax credit with a carbon tax. All these solutions are doable if the right incentive is there. The basic problem is not lack of solutions, it’s the scare tactics by incumbent polluters that sway voters against such policies.

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  18. Fresh water is the important factor to grow plant in deserts. Someone said the plants grown in china desert may die when the groundwater is drained by the plants. Hope china engineer/politician can dare to build a mega project to divert river to the deserts.

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  19. No need to worry about being cold, it will always be cheaper to do nothing than to spend money reducing the problem.

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  20. Forests maintenance and logging is an decent industry any first world countries with forests. Trend is more long term as you want more timber and less cellulose.

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  21. That is an important point, poor countries tend to have deforestation as wood is needed for heating and cooking. Haiti and North Korea compared to neighbors are arc types.
    On the other hand rich countries tend to get more forests, might be without initiatives as marginal farmland who is not economic to farm return to forests.

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  22. Increasingly developed nations will do this, regardless. There is very real cultural bias and economic trend towards re-greening and preservation, once we aren’t so concerned about what we are going to eat or how to heat our homes (and when most of us have a home). And if you have followed this blog and saw some of the global trends, it seems pretty clear that we will continue raising the standard of living across the world, reforesting and reducing our CO2 ecological footprint as a result.

    That can be a problem? sure, but one we’ll have to deal with in due time.

    The worrying part for me, is that we are really bad to do planned action about climate changes. We simply can’t agree on the matter, and there are too many political opportunists wanting to impose misanthropic, obsolete ideologies for us to reach a common ground.

    The CO2 increase and the global blooming it has brought was a fortunate accident of fossil fuel based industrialization, one that can stop happening if we stop emitting enough CO2 or if we start re-greening Earth too much, returning the planet to its natural climate vagaries.

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  23. With a bit of work, we could actually plunge ourselves into that resumed ice age all this CO2 was staving off.

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  24. Who’s gonna do this? Capitalists? This actions may require an unheard level of cooperation and internationalism totally impossible in Capitalism

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  25. And we can plant and encourage seeding of trees and grass with ECM fungi in tree roots which is the type that stores CO2. Out of the almost 800 of CO2 emissions released to the atmosphere every year,only about 27 Gt are a result of human activity. Land plants absorb about 440 Gt of CO2 every year. ECM fungi in tree roots can vary 70% between different tree root systems, so there is enough margin here to mitigate more of all the CO2 that result from human activity. 

    Here are some resources:

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11638-climate-myths-human-co2-emissions-are-too-tiny-to-matter/

    https://phys.org/news/2013-03-fungi-responsible-carbon-sequestration-northern.html

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4782245/

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  26. Note that for this to happen, nations also require to foster economic development. We can’t have thriving forests and jungles on impoverished nations. Contrarily to the tenets of radical green rhetoric, impoverishing humanity will make things much worse for the planet.

    Poor nations are polluters and net consumers of their natural resources, while more developed ones have started re-greening their territories.

    Related articles:
    https://reaction.life/biodiversity-threat-wont-tackled-alarmist-biologist-hype-dismantling-capitalism/

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