Is Mother Earth doomed?

A few days ago I read an interview in the excellent newspaper The Guardian, with English scientist Mayer Hillman. The pessimism struck me. Here’s one quote: “we’re doomed,” says Mayer Hillman with such a beaming smile that it takes a moment for the words to sink in. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps.”(*) You can read the whole interview here.

Is it true? Are we doomed? Mr. Hillman has very convincing arguments and if you would only read the article, you might believe we are.

However, mankind has experienced more occasions when things seemed so negative that people believed that the end of time had come. Consider the famines in the 13th century, the epidemics in the 14th century, or just recently two disastrous world wars in the 20th century. My father was 10 when WW2 started and he told me several times that he started his life thinking he would grow up knowing only poverty and war. Then from the age of 15 until his death at 84 he experienced nothing but growing wealth and peace.

Hillman mentions many problems, but let’s focus on what he calls the most important: the rise of the atmosphere’s temperature caused by mankind’s CO₂ emissions. He believes this cannot be reversed anymore. He says “There are no means of reversing the process”.

Every reader of this blog knows that this is not true. We can reverse the increase of CO₂ emissions in the atmosphere, if we want it. Mankind’s CO₂ emissions are around 30 billion tons per annum. If the Paris COP21 agreement is successful, this amount of CO₂ pollution will not increase any further, but it should slowly drop. However, last week I found an alarming article where I read that for the first time in history the concentration of CO₂ has reach 410 ppm, meaning that the results of the COP21 measures are not yet good enough to reduce the levels of CO₂ in the atmosphere. Maybe the reduction is not happening, since the world population is growing fast and it is known that CO₂ emissions rise proportionally with population growth. This suggests that as long as we are dependent on fossil fuels, mankind’s emission will be at least around 30 billion tons of CO₂ annually.

Can we really not reverse the process of the increasing CO₂ levels in our atmosphere?

The first question is: do we have an instrument that is able to clean the emissions of CO₂ from our atmosphere? The answer is a simple “yes”: we can use an instrument that was developed by nature itself; the tree. You can see that this is not a statement of me. It is proved by the video below from Nasa. 

They filmed the CO₂ concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere with satellites. When the concentration is too high, the atmosphere turns red in the video. You can see that when Spring starts, and trees get their leaves meaning that photosynthesis starts, the concentration drops considerably. So much that the over-concentration of CO₂ molecules is fully disconnected by the trees. In the video at 1:15 Spring starts and at 1:25, approximately the beginning of June, there is no over-concentration anymore. Once October starts the over-concentration begins again, because photosynthesis drops. This video proves clearly that trees are one of the best – if not the best - instruments to solve the climate change problem as long as we are using fossil fuels for our energy needs.

The second question is: do we have space available to plant trees at a big enough scale to clean all that CO₂ pollution? The answer is more complicated. According to the World Resource Institute there are 5 billion hectares of deserts, of which 2 billion hectares (5 billion acres) of land is plantable, but not used today – mankind could plant trees there. These 2 billion hectares are eroded by the influence of man and with the technologies that were developed in the 20th century – such as drip irrigation – we can plant there, but we would deplete all our fresh water resources, and it would be too expensive to be implemented at sufficient scale to reach our objective. So we need a better solution for the planting challenge.

The third question is: is this area big enough to solve the problem? The answer is a full ‘yes’. One hectare of trees removes on average 15 tons of CO₂ from the atmosphere each year, so if we plant these 2 billion hectares of degraded land with trees we can ‘neutralise’ 30 billion tons of mankind’s annual CO₂ emissions. CO₂ concentrations in the atmosphere will not rise anymore, and climate change will be stopped. If we were to plant more than 2 billion hectares of trees we could even clean the atmosphere from our historic CO₂ emissions and reduce the overall concentration.

The problem to solve is how to plant this degraded land, which suffers from a lack of water and has poor soils.

Since 2003 I dedicated my life to find a solution to this problem. During 15 years I worked hard to develop the Groasis Ecological Water Saving Technology. Now it is ready and Groasis is selling it worldwide. The technology offers unique ‘Triple 90 benefits’: it is 90% cheaper than drip irrigation, it uses 90% less water than drip irrigation and it results in a +90% survival rate. So the planting problem is solved too.

Having a technology that works, as has been reliably demonstrated in 42 countries around the world, I proposed The Treesolution in 2008: reverse climate change by planting trees with a money-making business model.

How much does it cost? Here’s the interesting part: the Treesolution costs nothing, it requires an investment of less than 2,500 Euros per hectare to plant productive trees and it will generate money year after year. These productive trees, which create food (fruit / nuts), medicines, fodder, timber, oils, honey, etc., can earn back the investment, create revenues, employment and wealth. We have so far identified more than 70 productive tree species that can be used for this purpose.

Political decisions are taken based on science. I asked two talented scientists from the Netherlands to complete a scientific review of The Treesolution, which you can download here. The document is not easy to read, but the outcome is heart-warming: from a scientific perspective the Treesolution is a viable and affordable solution to remove all CO₂ produced from fossil fuels from the atmosphere during the transition period in the 21st century, when we move from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources.

When I started this journey, as a former tulip- and lily breeder, I felt that it should be possible to develop a method to plant eroded land with a much higher water efficiency, in order to make this degraded land productive again. It took me 15 years to develop and perfect the Groasis Ecological Water Saving Technology, so I have fulfilled this goal. I strongly believe that Mankind’s inventiveness will solve all other problems that now seem impossible to solve. I am confident that Mr. Mayer Hill is not right: we can reverse the process! Mother Earth is not doomed.

I ask you all to spread the message of The Treesolution, let’s not accept the idea of a doomed Mother Earth. There is a solution available that actually costs no money, but creates food, income, employment and wealth – the Treesolution.

You can also work on the Treesolution yourself: A Green Musketeer plants one tree per year. If you have no room available to plant a tree, then let others do it for you: you can donate a tree here. Please become a member of our Green Musketeer group on Facebook: register here!

Let’s green the world, save water, produce food, create wealth, with the Treesolution!

Pieter Hoff

Green Musketeer

(*) Courtesy The Guardian