Team Trees 20 million trees goal will make no practical difference to climate change. Youtuber Thunderfoot breaks this down very nicely. So long as the ones planting the trees are mindful not to burn fossil fuel in any part of the process, i.e. shipping the sapling trees to where they will be planted it does no harm.  I first became aware of this when one of my favorite YouTube channels Linus Tech Tips made a video about making a tree planting cannon.  Their video also tells a little bit about how this started and became a real movement. I like their attitude towards it. Basically that this is mostly a fun thing to do and a fundraiser for the National Arbor Day foundation who will do the real work.

It is a great thing to bring awareness and consciousness to the fact climate change is happening, sea levels have risen about 0.5 meters since 1860. They are set to rise even more. Human activities are driving it.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that compared to the amount of carbon dioxide released by our activities far exceeds what planting the trees will do.  (For each Google search releases between 1 and 10 grams of carbon.)

The real solutions are not feel good, left or right wing approved, involve putting many new power plants of new types in peoples “back yards”.

In Short: Our Carbon Diet Is The Problem.

Reducing the carbon added to the atmosphere is like going on a diet.

To loose weight you have to burn more calories than you eat. You have to eat less cookies and fatty yummy foods, and go to the sweaty smelly gym and workout to get sweaty and smelly and tired.  You need to learn to love how you feel having measured portions chicken with herb seasoned brown rice and vegetables after a long workout.  TO get in shape you have to then not have dessert for months to years.

Planting the trees helps the way drinking diet soda with your double cheeseburger and extra large fries helps with weight loss.  Most people wind up eating more because of it. If you plant a tree but burn so much fossil fuel that it will take the tree 5 years to remove that carbon from the atmosphere that is not a solution. 

Real Solutions.

To reduce carbon we need to sequester, for a geologically significant time period, more carbon than we release via our economic activities. Plus we need to use less convent power sources, renewable solar and wind and also sustainable nuclear power. (Based on power plants of the latest far safer designs than those which have failed us. For a reason I will get into latter.)

What will work is building out solar, wind and nuclear power plants where appropriate. It will also take replacing our heavy machinery which burns fossil fuels with that which is either electric or powered by a hydrogen engine. To build out that initial infrastructure will mean using fossil fuels and switching to the non fossil fuel based technologies ASAP. (So says not just I but the Union of Concerned Scientist). 

Then we live with a warmer world for the next 10 to 100 thousand years. The only thing that will take the carbon out of the atmosphere and keep it out for a long time is geological processes.

Last but not least we need to depoliticize this issue.  It is not about capitalism vs socialism, corporations vs collective actions.  This is only about humanity's future versus humanity's inertia.   Our trajectory will not change with applying force to make it change. 

Tree planting has about as much weight as an ant walking on an elephant. It is only useful if it is the first of many many things you do.  Even an elephant of a problem can be taken down by a large enough army of ants.