Thursday, 16 Apr 2020

THE BIG DEAL ABOUT CO2

Photo Credit: Nik Shuliahin


Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is naturally occurring and necessary for the livelihood of all things. The “big deal,” is the fact that this greenhouse gas is rising at alarming rates and it is possible, in fact, to have too much of a good thing. Remember that extra helping of dessert last holiday season? 


Too much CO2 in the atmosphere means that temperatures on earth begin to rise. You probably know the rest —ice melts, sea levels rise, and lots of sentient beings become at risk and are now in danger. There are currently 1 trillion tons of excess carbon in our atmosphere, more CO2 in the past 30 years than in the rest of human history COMBINED. That’s more carbon since the invention of Sega Genesis than in the 4.5 billion years before it. emitting CO2 so quickly that our atmosphere can't filter it, and global temperatures are rising. 

While there are many ways the climate crisis shows up across the world, CO2 is the catalyst that makes all bad things worse. It’s threatening everything we love much faster than we think and at a scale we can’t imagine.

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CARBON REMOVAL IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF FIGHTING THE CLIMATE CRISIS

Scientists have given us a range of 8-11 years to hit the rewind button and remove massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. While the truth may feel bleak, and the time is definitely short, we still have a chance. 

First and foremost humans need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and shift away from coal, oil and natural gases. An unprecedented shift to renewable energy sources needs to happen. But all of that takes time. What we can (and should) do now is focus on removing carbon that has already been dumped into the atmosphere. This is an important complementary action to allow us to enact these other necessary solutions. We can give the earth a chance to properly realign its self-cooling and heating functions. 

We also need to all do that we can to reduce emissions, including passing a policy that prohibits the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. We won’t stop the climate crisis with a “this or that” mentality — we must act on all solutions. Now.


GLOBAL REFORESTATION IS AN EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE SOLUTION

Reforestation is the process of sowing seeds or planting new trees in areas where trees once stood, or where tree density is diminishing. Every tree on Earth captures and stores carbon, so whenever a tree is planted CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. 

For millions of years, the earth maintained an equilibrium of greenhouse gases to promote optimal conditions. However, due to mass deforestation, fires, and more, nature hasn't had enough trees to maintain that balance. Reforestation at scale gives the earth back the tools it needs to sequester CO2 and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. 

Photo Credit: Rhema Kallianpur
Historically, reforestation is a laborious and costly process, and often in challenging terrain, however,  the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific bodies have reached a stark conclusion: Most paths to halting global temperature increases rely in some way on adopting methods of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

Tree planting is a beautifully regenerative approach to mitigating the crisis; however, there is no single solution that has the capacity right now to scale to the size of the challenge we face.


DRONES V. DEFORESTATION

Currently, we are losing forests much faster than we can replace them. Through positive feedback loops, it is predicted that this problem will only get worse as Earth’s climate nears the “tipping point.” Although a tried-and-true method, planting seedlings by hand poses logistical constraints that can’t keep up with the pace of this crisis, with nursery supply chains and labor forces at the top of the list. 

Our partner, DroneSeed, is leading the pack in this space. They are the first and only entity with FAA approval to operate heavy-lift drone swarms, each drone carrying a 57lb payload, and to operate in areas beyond visual line of sight.

Photo Credit: DroneSeed

Drone technology has been used in Agricultural Technology (AgTech) for a while but the costs associated mean that it can be too expensive for tree-planting organizations to utilize. Drones can be an incredible aid to planting processes—from the surveying of land and improving efficiency to monitoring and after-care. By incorporating drone planting into our future projects (on land where it is appropriate and permission has been granted) we will be able to speed up and scale the number of trees we can plant—propelling us forward on our path to 1 trillion trees.

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