Before we launch into the easiest way we can fight climate change–have you guys seen Planet Earth? I’ve devoured every episode of both Planet Earth and Planet Earth 2, crying, laughing, and in awe of all the beauty and strangeness of our blue world. One thing that always sent me over the moon was the soothing voice of Sir David Attenborough introducing seasonal forests: “A third of all trees grow in the boreal forests just below the Arctic Circle,” he would intone over the sweeping aerial shots.
Forests are the untapped reserve of the Earth’s fight against climate change. Boreal forests are so large and so vital that when they are in their maximum growing phases in the northern hemisphere’s spring and summer, the worldwide levels of CO2 fall and the worldwide levels of oxygen rise. In fact, forests of all kinds act as the Earth’s great air conditioner, absorbing a total of 2.4 billion metric tons of CO2 each year. The Amazon alone is responsible for a quarter of that amount.
In the past 2 years since Paris Climate Accord, we have far exceeded our pledged emissions goals and our global average temperature is on track to rise 2.5* – 4.7* Celsius above pre-Industrial levels. Since our efforts to curb gas emissions are effectively failing, planting trees is one of the most effective ways to fight global warming, and definitely an indispensable one. Larger forests can even create clouds, which then reflect the sunlight and cool the planet.
Plus, forests prevent floods and provide healthy, sustainable food & livelihood–antidotes to an increasingly volatile world prone to natural disasters and famines. Fortunately, there’s a way you can help our forests without moving to the countryside and taking up tree farming, or becoming a ranger! In fact, you can plant trees right at your desk!
Introducing Ecosia, the browser extension uses 80% of its search ad revenue for tree planting programs around the world. You just download Ecosia on Chrome, and search for queries as you usually do. There’s all you do on your part (sorry, I wish I could give you more detailed instructions, but there are none). Meanwhile, Ecosia plants trees all around the world by partnering with highly reputable reforestation programs.
In the desertified lands around Fez, Ifran, and Oujda in Morocco, Ecosia is helping restore the ancient forests with fruit and nut trees grown in nurseries, nourished by solar-powered wells and schoolchildren. (So cute!!) Over 1.3 million trees are expected to graduate from these tree schools in time (with a diploma, we hope). The reforestation also helps communities grow stronger, restores cooler and more habitable weather to the region, and helps women become economically self-sufficient.
Tree nursery in Fez, Morocco where the baby trees get partly tended by schoolchildren
Some nurseries like this one in Ourika solely employ local women, which helps them become economically self-sufficient and empowered.
Indonesia’s incredibly unique and diverse ecosystem has been under catastrophic assault since 1970s, in part due to deforestation for palm oil production. Between 1990-2010, Indonesia lost 20.3% of its forest cover. In 2016, over 2 million hectares of forestland was burned up to make room for palm plantations. Villagers plant native species that blend into the existing land, creating a self-sustaining forest.
Ecosia partnered with 12 villages and a local nonprofit to plant productive local trees all around villages near Mount Saran. These trees, including rubber, tengkawang, and sugar trees, provide sustainable income to the villagers so that they are not compelled to sell their land to palm companies. Meanwhile, these species grow best in mixed forests, which promotes biodiversity and healthier soil. What’s more, the forested areas surrounding the 12 villages will form a shield around the 25,000 hectares of mountainous forestland, making it untouchable to industries–and giving the orangutans a sanctuary and a lifeline.
As of now, Ecosia has planted almost 17 million trees in places like Tanzania, Brazil, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, and Peru. Right now, the Earth is at a crossroads between sustainable future and destruction–and it will take each of us to help save the planet. Out of all the conscious choices we can make, Ecosia is definitely the easiest way to make a difference–and an incredibly effective one at that.
Who else is excited about Ecosia’s reforestation projects?
- Sponsored by Ecosia. Thank you for supporting Peaceful Dumpling! 😀
Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash; Peaceful Dumpling; Ecosia; Rainforest Action via Flickr