Washington: A new study has estimated that at least 3 trillion trees are currently present on earth. This is much more than the previously estimated figure of 400 billion trees.
The study was carried out by Yale forestry researcher Thomas Crowther whose team used 429,775 ground-based measurements, satellite images and measurements and computer models to arrive at a global figure of 3.04 trillion trees, according to a report in Times of India.
The study was conceptualized when, Crowther was approached by United Nations-affiliated youth group that had set a goal of planting 1 billion trees to fight man-made climate change.
The study estimated that before the dawn of human civilization, there were at least 5.6 trillion trees on earth. But, today more than half of them have been wiped out. The study revealed that at least 15 billion trees are cut every year, but only 5 billion new trees are planted. Therefore, there is a net loss of 10 billion trees every year and at this rate, the earth will be completely devoid of trees within next 300 years.
The youth group-Plant for the Planet has now revised its goal and has set its new target to growing 18 billion trees.
Plants and trees may be better and cheaper options than technology to mitigate air pollution, says a new study from an Indian-origin researcher.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that adding plants and trees to the landscapes near factories and other pollution sources could reduce air pollution by an average of 27 per cent.
Researchers found that in 75 per cent of the countries analysed, it was cheaper to use plants to mitigate air pollution than it was to add technological interventions – things like smokestack scrubbers – to the sources of pollution.
“The fact is that traditionally, especially as engineers, we don’t think about nature; we just focus on putting technology into everything,” said Indian-origin researcher and study lead author Bhavik Bakshi from the Ohio State University.
“And so, one key finding is that we need to start looking at nature and learning from it and respecting it. There are win-win opportunities if we do – opportunities that are potentially cheaper and better environmentally,” he added.
To start understanding the effect that trees and other plants could have on air pollution, the researchers collected public data on air pollution and vegetation on a county-by-county basis across the lower 48 states.
Then, they calculated what adding additional trees and plants might cost. Their calculations included the capacity of current vegetation – including trees, grasslands and shrublands – to mitigate air pollution.
They also considered the effect that restorative planting – bringing the vegetation cover of a given county to its county-average levels – might have on air pollution levels.
They estimated the impact of plants on the most common air pollutants – sulfur dioxide, particulate matter that contributes to smog, and nitrogen dioxide.
They found that adding trees or other plants could lower air pollution levels in both urban and rural areas, though the success rates varied depending on, among other factors, how much land was available to grow new plants and the current air quality.
The findings indicate that nature should be a part of the planning process to deal with air pollution, and show that engineers and builders should find ways to incorporate both technological and ecological systems. (IANS)