Planting trees for the planet – and for us

In my last post, I discussed my carbon footprint associated with my daily commute and the fact that I couldn’t do anything about it. In response, a friend of mine pointed out that I could plant trees to offset the emissions. Every week, I could pay into a tree planting scheme, just as I pay for petrol.

As a geologist, I often wonder which oil reserve the petrol I’m putting into my tank has come from. For million of years, the carbon was stored underground, but is now being released back into the atmosphere, where it accumulates with all the other carbon emitted through the burning of fossil fuels. By planting trees, the emissions I release could be taken up again by the biosphere.

According to Trees for Life, six mature trees take up about one tonne of CO2. On my daily commute, plus a few extra miles to account for some driving on the weekend, my carbon footprint is about 0.02 kg of CO2, which means that I would have to offset 1 tonne of carbon every 50 days, or about every two months. A bit of research shows that organisations in the UK I could support include Trees for Life, the Woodland Trust or The National Park project.

Offsetting carbon emissions should be the last resort. First, we should try to reduce emissions as much as we can. Regardless, is planting more trees ever a bad idea? After all, they provide as with so many more benefits than just soaking up carbon.

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