I think the most cost-effective way to mitigate greenhouse gases is among the simplest: plant more trees. Forests are vitally important in the mitigation of global warming. A healthy forest is a colossal carbon sink, sequestering vast amounts of carbon not just in the trees themselves but in the soil, biomatter on the forest floor and in waters that run through forested areas. The world’s forests already remove about 30 billion tons of CO2 every year. Although companies and governments spend billions a year on complicated reforestation programs, which are very necessary, most of this money goes toward buying and managing large tracts of land; the cost of planting trees themselves is negligible. Some countries have adopted very simple policies to encourage reforestation: in Indonesia, for example, every married couple has to plant 10 trees, every divorced couple, 50. Large-scale reforestation initiatives also often turn out to be profitable. Costa Rica’s various programs, for example, have restored rainforests that have become tourist paradises, bringing millions into the economy. Responsible management of forests for commercial uses can bring steady and guaranteed streams of revenue for decades to come. This is all beside the main point that trees sequester carbon. If we want to get rid of greenhouse gas emissions, my advice is, cover as much of the planet in trees as fast as possible.
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