Founded by a 9 nine-year-old boy, the “Plant for the Planet” initiative recruits kids all over the world with the collective aim to plant 1 trillion trees.
The world has been slow to combat change, and its effects are devastating our planet. Adults are taking an eternity to debate the issue, then to make commitments, and then to act.
Fortunately, youngsters are more willing to cut to the chase and take concrete steps toward averting climate change and saving the world’s atmosphere.
We’ve seen this with Boyan Slat who, at 18, launched the Ocean Cleanup Project which seeks to get rid of the junk that’s cluttering the ocean.
Another kid, Felix Finkbeiner, is spearheading the most ambitious global reforestation project ever with his Plant for the Planet Scheme.
The Adult Kid in the Room
In 2007, Felix Finkbeiner was a nine-year-old student in small village in Bavaria, Germany.
While he was preparing a homework presentation on climate change, he stumbled upon the story of Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
Felix was inspired by Maathai (1940-2011) whose Green Belt Movement, in 30 years, had planted 30 million trees in Africa.
In his classroom, Felix called for planting a million trees in every country, and supported by his teacher, he planted the first tree in the school.
The idea was then picked up by other schools, and then other school kids in many countries around the world, and has now grown into a full-fledged global youth movement.
The “Plant for the Planet” initiative was born, with a simple yet noble mission: plant trees with the help of thousands of young “climate ambassadors”.
In 2011, the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) handed over the “Billion Tree Campaign” for Felix and kids to run.
“We children know adults know the challenges and they know the solutions,” Felix addressed the UN General Assembly. “We don’t know why there is so little action.”
To date, Plant for the Planet has planted 15,216,502,068 trees in the world, but this is just the start.
A Trillion Trees is no Tall Order
Today, it’s estimated that the world contains over 3 trillion trees, but Felix’s non-profit organization aims to bring that number up to 4 trillion in the next 30 years.
Last year, Plant for the Planet took the “Billion Tree Campaign” and dialed it up a notch by launching the “Trillion Trees” program.
The project’s vision is that “By mid-century, through concerted collective action by all sectors of society, one trillion trees have been re-grown, saved from loss and better protected around the world. Deforestation has ended, a significant numbers of trees have returned to areas where they were lost and large areas of existing trees are better protected. These trees, in forests, woodlots, and farms, bring multiple social, economic and environmental benefits”.
A trillion trees will either be planted or saved from being unnecessarily cut down. When finished, the total number of trees will be equivalent to about 150 trees for each person living on the planet.
Even with only a “360 billion tree scenario”, we’d have a massive carbon sink that would eliminate “36-50 Gigatonnes of carbon” per year, which would close the emissions gap, as human activities are currently responsible for 9 to 12 Gigatonnes per year, and then some.
Admittedly, kids think big. Old age politics is obfuscating and contorting what our planet needs to survive. In the end, the sincerity and genuine nature of children might just be what we need to save the planet from ourselves.