Plant a tree per hour you fly

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Introducing a new article by Rob de Laet. Tree planting as a way of extracting CO2 from the atmosphere goes into the very core of the SOP goals and we are happy to introduce his thoughts.

Hans Joergen Rasmussen

Webmaster.

 

Plant a tree per hour you fly

Your CO2 emissions matter as the world is heating up. While only concerted international efforts like the Paris accords can really make a difference, most experts agree that those efforts, even if successful, are not enough to avoid dangerous climate change, so more needs to be done. The most important measure that the world should take tomorrow is to put a steep, globally uniform price on carbon emissions. We should all be pushing our politicians to act and act now and act courageously if we want to win the fight against catastrophic climate change! But we can also do something about our own personal emissions. 

If you are reading this, you probably agree that you and I and everyone has the moral responsibility to make our lives carbon neutral. I have decided (quite late) to try and plant enough trees to leave this life so that the CO2 my actions emitted, will be compensated by the planting of trees. We owe it to young, innocent life on our Planet after us.

There are many ways in which you contribute to emissions. Like the production and use of an average laptop (provided the electricity is generated with fossil fuels) will emit around 800 kg of CO2 over its lifespan. So your carbon footprint is made up of many elements and there are many sites where you can make a rough calculation of the amount of CO2 that is emitted by the way you live, but this one I can recommend:

www.carbonindependent.org

The best way to go about it is of course simpler living, consuming less, eating less meat, eat local food, move around by bicycle, train or electric car. Transport is a major factor in the emissions that you and I cause, especially petrol and diesel cars and of course flights. But stopping flying will shrink your world considerably and is therefore a step too far for many, including me. Therefore I came up with a simple formula, roughly based in calculations, to offset your flight emissions, and it is simple:

Plant a tree per hour you fly!

How did I get to that simple formula to offset your flight emissions?

While it is impossible to make exact calculations how much your personal contribution to flight emissions is, as it depends on multiple factors: how many passengers on the flight, how long is the flight (taking off requires a lot more fuel than cruising at high altitude), how old is your aircraft, we use as a rule of thumb that you can assume you emit ¼ ton CO2 or 250 kg CO2 per hour flying. For detailed calculations you can have a look at: http://www.carbonindependent.org/sources_aviation.html

If you want to compensate this, there are several sites where you can pay to offset your emissions and more and more airlines offer emission off set programs, which I propose you do. But the latter do this based on very low prices for carbon offset based on the Kyoto protocol which is not realistic.

So here is what I propose, what you do on top of compensating through known programs:

Plant a tree per hour you fly. Throughout its life span, a tree absorbs carbon dioxide and while it starts slowly as a sapling after about a decade it starts absorbing larger amounts. While this also depends on tree species, climate zone and other factors, we can assume that an average tree over a lifespan of 40 years can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide. But since some will die and more importantly your emissions start to heat up the atmosphere from the day you fly, while the effect of the slow growing tree are years behind your initial warming, I propose that you plant one tree for every hour you are flying.

If you cannot plant them yourself, there are many options to have them planted for you, which you can find on the internet. I personally support Tree Sisters, a wonderful initiative with a goal to plant one billion trees by 2020.

See: www.treesisters.org

Myself I have a more modest program to plant about 50.000 trees by 2020 on a piece of former forest in Brazil, but will need some help to accomplish that as well, so if you are interested, send me a mail at robdelaet@yahoo.com For companies or wealthy people, I can also help to reforest large tracks of deforested wasteland in that area as a way to compensate for their emissions. It will be done in an area where there was once tropical forest and the reforestation will be done with about fifty different indigenous tree species that once made up a large part of those forests.

The time for action is now!

Rob de Laet, June 2017

Illustration: Hans Joergen Rasmussen

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