Three environmentalists in New Zealand are dedicating a new forestry initiative to President Donald Trump. No, it’s not because they think he’s done great things for the environment and needs recognition. It’s the latest (of many) efforts around the world to counter what one journalist has called Trump’s “disasterous” record when it comes to addressing climate change.
Entrepreneur and filmmaker Adrien Taylor, climate scientist Dan Price (known for his Pole to Paris initiative to raise awareness about climate change), and political scientist Jeffrey Willis, who helped organize the first Tedx ScottBase conference to be held at a government base in Antartica) figure it’s just the kind of program that can highlight the follies of the Trump administration’s environmental approach, which include pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Accord.
So they came up with Trump Forest, a nod to a president who has to date, managed to dismantle or threaten every U.S. policy implemented by the Obama administration to reduce global warming.
Through their partnership with Eden Reforestation Project and other tree providers, Trump Forest aims to plant enough trees across the globe to counter the president’s dismantling of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era plan that researchers said could have had a profound impact on reducing carbon emissions in the U.S. Rough estimates state that about 650 million tons of CO2 would have been prevented from entering the atmosphere had the plan been allowed to reach fruition.
Taylor, Price and Willis figure it would take about 10 billion trees to soak up that amount of carbon from the atmosphere over the next 8 years. So they are calling on supporters to help by funding tree planting across the globe to meet that goal.
“Then, at least, the backward steps of the Trump Administration will be negated until it sees the light and steps up to its duty of leadership, or a sane and logical government that bases its decisions on scientific advice wins the next election,” the founders write “…[But] we’ve got your back, Don.”
So far, more than 400,000 trees have been planted with pledges from more than 1,600 individuals across the world. According to the web site, that amounts to more than $60,000 invested since they launched the project to coincide with Trump’s executive order announcing his plan to promote the U.S.’ “energy independence” (and dismiss efforts to address climate change).
In just a few months, Trump Forest has become a notable example of initiatives that galvanize public support with one simple idea. And just as impressively, it’s done so without creating a lot of red tape. The founders say they aren’t looking to make a profit. They simply want to be pro-active and draw attention to the potential mess that the lack of a U.S. climate change strategy could bring.
The initiative will have its detractors — few tree-planting organizations are offered on its map of go-to resources and many climate experts will quibble with the impact of tree-planting initiatives in general. However, this is a simple, straightforward campaign that is easy to get behind.
The Arbor Day Foundation has been promoting tree planting for decades by encouraging homeowners to actively improve their property while being forward-thinking about the right kind of trees for climate mitigation. That’s actually a huge issue now in places like Colorado, Idaho, California and other semi-rural areas where smartly mitigated properties have been shown to save lives and limit wildfires.
And the iconic example of tree planting initiatives, the Jewish National Fund, which spearheads the effort to ensure trees are a part of one of the world’s driest and climate-impacted ecologies, could be added to this map as well. In the scope of restorative efforts, the history of tree planting in Israel literally dwarfs those of other global regions.
If the aim is to significantly boost trees and draw attention to the need to combat carbon emissions, it would seem that carpeting Trump Forest’s map with as many examples of go-to organizations as possible will really communicate its message. It will also translate that message to people who regularly donate to plant trees for other reasons, such as in Israel and the U.S. while driving home a message that has become key to climate change: It shouldn’t be socio-political values that govern our planet’s well being, but common-sense strategies.