What a question.
We have reached breaking point and the people are getting angry—but not just “at the situation.” While we are all responsible for our individual carbon footprint, it turns out some entities are indeed more guilty than others. According to this Guardian article, just 90 companies are responsible for two thirds of man made global warming and they’re not going to stop because they are making too much money.
Groups like Extinction Rebellion are rising up to make a stand against the moguls and politicians and to raise awareness of this crisis.
Yes, the people are angry, but we’re also confused. We want to help, but is boycotting Chevron really helping? Cooperations have a lot to answer for but fighting them is quite a task (something I will talk more about in another post). There is hope. There is one thing we can do to buy us some time.
What is reforesting and how can it save the planet?
According to a statement from scientist signatories on the Climate and Land Alliance website, the only proven means of removing and storing enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to meaningfully contribute towards carbon balance lies in the “natural technology” of forests.
During photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Plants have also been proven to absorb different toxins from the air (which I explain further in this blog). Forests currently remove around a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans add to the atmosphere. It stands to reason that the more forests we have, the more CO2 they will absorb and store, reducing its heat-trapping effect.
The prevention of deforestation is no longer enough to achieve this net-negative carbon effect. The statement from scientist signatories states that limiting global warming requires not only protecting and sustainably managing the forests we have, but also re-planting and restoring the forests we’ve lost.
There are a few terms that get thrown around when it comes to restoring forests and wildlife. Foresting means both re-populating fallen forests (reforesting) as well planting forests on land that lacked it naturally (afforestation). David Attenborough talks about rewilding in How to Save Our Planet, a video for WWF. Rewilding means returning unused land to nature.
There is a lot we can do as individuals to save the planet through rewilding and foresting, from large-scale reforesting projects to plating a tree in your garden. Here are some ideas:
- Plant trees: it seems obvious but everyone can do it. Once you’ve finished your apple (for example), plant the pips in a pot then when it’s big enough—plant it outside. You can either plant it in your garden or on forgotten public land (bear in mind this could get you in trouble so check if you’re allowed… or be really sneaky). I talk about planting apple seeds here if you want some more advice.
- Support smaller businesses that plant trees in exchange for your purchases (examples here). We love Tentree for organic cotton clothing that gets 10 baby trees planted for every item sold, and Ecosia for internet search that also plants trees around the world. Or if you have a small business you can start planting trees in exchange for purchases with a National Forests partnership.
- The Rewilding Foundation encourages you to get involved by supporting new and ongoing initiatives great and small, and by creating your own. As such you can become part of a growing interactive and collaborative network of conservationists. Have a search for rewilding projects near you and if you can’t find any, why not start your own?
- Or why not rewild your garden?
This may all seem pretty daunting but the first step is awareness. I’ve put together some resources below if you’re interested in further reading or finding charities to support.
Resources to get you started
Go Abroad list reforestation programmes you can take part in overseas.
We Forrest have job offers in Belgium and Ethiopia.
Here is a list by Selfeco Garden of 10 businesses that plant a tree for every product you buy
One Tree Planted plants a tree for every dollar donated.
As Cantech Letter (an online Canadian technology magazine) states in this article, rewilding is not a permanent solution. Even forests have a lifespan and when they die they will release CO2 back into the atmosphere. Rewilding will buy us some time if we do it on an enormous scale (and every little really helps) but there is no way we can keep up with the rate at which industry is growing. So let’s all plant some trees, but we mustn’t forget to also fight capitalism.
Good luck my eco warriors!
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