Industrial Civilization Has Halved the Number of Trees on the Planet
Trees 'store huge amounts of carbon, are essential for the cycling of nutrients, for water and air quality, and for countless human services'
Industrial Civilization Has Halved the Number of Trees on the Planet
By Andrea Germanos / commondreams.org
Sep 4, 2015

The good news: there are over 3 trillion trees covering the Earth—that's far higher than the 4 billion estimated just two years ago, a team of international researchers has found.

But here's the bad news: there were far more trees—46 percent more—before human civilization got hold, with an estimated 15 billion trees being lost own each year, with just 5 billion replanted.

"Trees are among the most prominent and critical organisms on Earth, yet we are only recently beginning to comprehend their global extent and distribution," said Thomas Crowther, a Yale Climate & Energy Institute post-doctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and lead author of the study, in a press statement.

The statement also described the findings as "the most comprehensive assessment of tree populations ever produced," and the researchers say that, as forests function as carbon sinks, their new map provides important information for climate change models.

The total number they tallied, adding up to about 422 trees per person, suprised even Crowther.  "They store huge amounts of carbon, are essential for the cycling of nutrients, for water and air quality, and for countless human services," he stated.  "Yet you ask people to estimate, within an order of magnitude, how many trees there are and they don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what I would have guessed, but I was certainly surprised to find that we were talking about trillions."

Using data from forest inventories, satellite imagery, and computer technology, they assessed over global 400,000 forest plots, defining "tree" as any plant with woody stems larger than 10 centimeters in diameter at breast level.

The tropics have the largest area of trees, housing 43 percent of the over 3 trillion, while the boreal forests in the sub-arctic regions house the largest densities of trees. Tropical regions are also facing the greatest rates of deforestation, yet no region has been spared this negative human effect, they write.

Along with deforestation, humans are causing the dramatic tree loss through land-use changes and forest management. The researchers write: "the scale and consistency of this negative human effect across all forested biomes highlights how historical land use decisions have shaped natural ecosystems on a global scale."

"We’ve nearly halved the number of trees on the planet, and we’ve seen the impacts on climate and human health as a result," Crowther adds in his statement. "This study highlights how much more effort is needed if we are to restore healthy forests worldwide."

The journal Nature, where the study was published, has this video to accompany the new findings:

4.0 ·
1
Trending Today
Obama's Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Stansfield Smith · 9,683 views today · It should be a scandal that leftists-liberals paint Trump as a special threat, a war mongerer – not Obama who is the first president to be at war everyday of his eight years...
Baraka (1992)
97 min · 9,299 views today · Featuring no conventional narrative, this film presents footage of people, places and things from around the world. From chaotic cities to barren wilderness, the movie takes...
Deconstructing Hierarchies: On Contrived Leadership and Arbitrary Positions of Power
Colin Jenkins · 6,243 views today · Bosses don't grow on trees. They don't magically appear at your job. They aren't born into their roles. They are created. They are manufactured to fulfill arbitrary positions...
Make The Serengeti Great Again | Resource Scarcity, Demagogues and How Creativity Can Trump Hate (2017)
5 min · 5,072 views today · A Familiar Tale of Resource Scarcity, Demagogues, and How Creativity Can Trump Hate A quick, original, illustrated allegory that pokes at the demagogues we’ve got with an...
Why I Think This World Should End
4 min · 3,941 views today · Sorry if this offends you. - Prince Ea
The Myth of Romantic Love May Be Ruining Your Health
Susanne Vosmer · 3,233 views today · Romantic love in Western societies is often portrayed in a stereotypical way: two yearning halves, who search for each other to find their complete, original state. Few find...
Prophecy Delivered! Martin Luther King Jr. and the Death of Democracy
Reverend Osagyefo Sekou · 2,739 views today · “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Democracy is dead. It...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 2,721 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Trump: The Illusion of Change
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 2,268 views today · “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.” — Wendell Berry
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 1,692 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Union Co-Operatives: What They Are and Why We Need Them
Simon Taylor · 1,544 views today · Neoliberal policies contribute to alienation, disempowerment and non-unionised jobs, but a new model for unions could break the vicious circle, argues Simon Taylor.
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss: Bracing for Trump's Anti-Worker, Corporate Agenda
Colin Jenkins · 1,488 views today · Rich people don’t have to have a life-and-death relationship with the truth and its questions; they can ignore the truth and still thrive materially. I am not surprised many...
What Is a Gift Economy? - Alex Gendler
4 min · 1,401 views today · What if, this holiday season, instead of saying "thank you" to your aunt for her gift of a knitted sweater, the polite response expected from you was to show up at her house in...
Something Better to Offer Trump Voters Tired of Waiting for Their Turn
David Korten · 1,192 views today · A world free of extremes of wealth and poverty in which no one needs to stand in line for a chance at a secure and fulfilling life.
Thoughts on the Eve of the Trump Regime
Mark Corske · 1,002 views today · A blend of dread, disgust, rage, and despair for the future, all in a state of shocked disbelief—if you feel something like this facing the Trump regime’s ascent to power...
Trump Is a Symptom of a Sickness That Is Raging All Across The World
1 min · 940 views today · This is why we are here. And this is what we need to remember. 
Living Through an Age of Unraveling: Reflections as We Enter 2017
Martin Winiecki · 638 views today · “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.” ― R. Buckminster Fuller
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 603 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 478 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More
Josh Jones · 436 views today · Why must we all work long hours to earn the right to live? Why must only the wealthy have a access to leisure, aesthetic pleasure, self-actualization…? Everyone seems to have...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Industrial Civilization Has Halved the Number of Trees on the Planet