As per research, Earth’s average temperature will be increased by 2-degrees Celcius by the end of the year 2050. This has been the result of global warming and the growing quantity of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. It has been reached alarming levels of incurability.
However, in a recent report on Climate Change by the intergovernmental panel, it has been found that to save the earth from global warming and to limit the rising temperature to 1.5-degree Celcius only, there needs to be an increase in forest cover as much as one billion hectares. Yes, not one billion trees, but one billion hectares of trees. This is the extent to which we have damaged our environment that its cure is far from the reach of human capabilities.
This figure has been estimated by taking into account the Google Images from around the world. However, looking at the planet’s current condition, it is not clear as to how much of this is practically possible. The very research has also concentrated on determining the land area available around the world which can be used for reforestation.
The study which was published in the ‘Science’ journal was conducted by the researchers of the Crowther Lab of ETH Zurich university. They collected around 80,000 google images from around the world. They made an analysis of the collective data to determine the amount of land area that would be sufficient to cure the earth’s global warming problem, followed by a red signal climate change. As a result, it was determined that about 0.9 hectares of land need to be covered with forests again, to cure the problem.
It has been calculated that if the researched figures can be brought into practicality by reforesting 0.9 billion hectares of land, then approximately 2/3rd of the total carbon emissions by a human could be capture by trees and be photosynthesised to create fresh air.
In a conversation with Indian Express, Jean-François Bastin, lead author of the study said: “While we did the calculations, One aspect was of particular importance to us; we excluded agricultural areas & urban cities from accounting into the total restoration potential because these are the areas that are needed for human life.”
Earth’s current area which is covered with trees is 2.8 billion hectares. As per the researchers, there is a good potential area of 1.6 billion hectares which is available for reforestation, making it a total of 4.4 billion hectares. However, out of that 1.6 billion hectare area, only 0.9 billion hectare area falls in the criteria of not being used by humans.
Since the advent of the industrial age, human activities have been responsible for releasing a hefty amount of oxygen into the atmosphere. Out of the total carbon that exists in the atmosphere naturally, 300 billion tonnes of CO2 is a result of human activities. If the research works the way it is meant to be, and the global population is able to plant trees in the said area of 0.9 billion trees, then the reforested areas, after becoming mature, will be able to store up to 205 billion tonnes of carbons, which is 2/3rd of the total carbons produced by humans.
On this Crowther said that we need to act quickly because the forests will take decades to reach their potential of being able to clean the estimated amount of carbons from the atmosphere.
Talking about India, as states in the ‘State of Forest Report 2017’ by the Environment and Forest Ministry of India, our motherland has an existing forest cover of 7,08,273 Sq Km i.e. 70.83 Million Hectares. Besides, there is a tree cover of93815 Sq Km (9.38 Million Hectares). Our country has extra potential land, which can be reforested with 9.93 million hectares of forest cover.
The research has shown that there are 6 countries around the world which has the highest potential for aforestation which includes Russia (151 million hectares); the US (103 million hectares); Canada (78.4 million hectares); Australia (58 million hectares); Brazil (49.7 million hectares); and China (40.2 million hectares).
This has been a remarkable study as it lets a human understand the severity of the carbon age and how hard it is for habitants of the planet to cure the problem that has spread around. However, the study has given us a ray of hope that if we act timely, situations may not be reduced to normal but can be controlled from growing further.
The study has also faced some criticism from around the world. From amongst various people around the world, who shared an opinion on the study, Jesse Reynolds, a part of ‘Berkeley and Los Angeles Law Faculties’ of University of California’s has pointed out that the researchers have not considered the fact that the land which has been proposed for reforestation includes private lands as well. The land areas are managed and owned by private individuals, government organisations, corporate entities etc. These are the factors which will alter the figures practically, thus making the estimated reforestation impossible.
He also added that the amount of carbon removal per area, that has been estimated by the authors is remarkably high. He said that the authors are arguing to rely more on reforestation to cure climate change & global warming. They are choosing to ignore the other possible efforts of curing the planet. Instead of concentrating solely on reforestation we can resort to adapt such industrial practices which will render lesser carbon emissions into the environment.