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The New York Times: How Much Can Trees Fight Climate Change? Massively, but Not Alone, Study Finds.

On November 13, 2023 Catrin Einhorn’s article How Much Can Trees Fight Climate Change? Massively, but Not Alone, Study Finds appeared on the New York Times’ website. 

The article can be read in full on the New York Times website. 

Key points from the article are included below:

  • Restoring global forests where they occur naturally could potentially capture an additional 226 gigatons of planet-warming carbon, equivalent to about a third of the amount that humans have released since the beginning of the Industrial Era, according to a new study published on Monday [November 13] in the journal Nature.
  • Dr. Crowther was the senior author of a polarizing study on forest carbon in 2019 that drew scientific backlash but also inspired an effort by the World Economic Forum to grow and conserve one trillion trees.
  • In 2019, he acknowledged, careless language led to trees being wrongly painted as a silver bullet for climate change. Now, his biggest fear is that countries and companies will keep treating forests that way, using them for carbon offsets to enable the continued use of fossil fuels.
  • “We are all terrified that this potential of nature gets misused,” Dr. Crowther said. “Nature has such spectacular potential to help us tackle global threats, but it will be devastating if major organizations use nature as an excuse to do more harm to our planet.”
  • Restoration efforts have also proven problematic. In the name of fighting climate change, countries and companies have often invested in failed mass tree plantings or monocultures of commercial, nonnative species that hurt biodiversity. While the latter might grow quickly, they sequester only half as much carbon over time, Dr. Crowther said.
  • But there is one thing they all agree on: To tackle both climate change and biodiversity loss, the world must do far more to cut fossil fuels and end deforestation of old-growth forests.
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