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How will we survive on this planet?

A numeric aproach, giving perspective to the big numbers

By Viggo Van HouttePublished about a month ago 3 min read
How will we survive on this planet?
Photo by Ella Ivanescu on Unsplash

Our planet is slowly becoming less and less habitable for plants and animals, but not all hope has faded away. There are still a lot of ways in which we could start fixing our past mistakes right now.

The annual production of carbon dioxide has reached new peaks in 2021: last year we, as a species, released an estimated 36 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide gas into our atmosphere. Of course we need to stop producing so much waste and pollution, but this article will mainly be about compensating for these ridiculous numbers.

One take on the problem is planting more trees, and by more I mean a lot more: as you will see.

For the following calculations we will assume that in 2022 the exhaust created by humans will be the same record number as last year in 2021.

According to an article by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) an average mature tree absorbs 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air every year. That’s about 24 kilos per year, meaning that we would need 1 500 billion mature trees to even out the 36 billion tons of CO² we create.

The next logical question is: “How much space will those billions of trees need?”

Well, in an article written by Gill Ringland (previous director of Ethical Reading) he writes that a medium-sized tree needs nine square meters of space. Naturally we would want the trees we plant to be as close to the place of pollution as possible, preferably in the big cities and close to industrial sites. This means that for the 1 500 billion trees we want to plant we would need 13 500 billion m² or 13 500 000 km².

By Steven Kamenar on Unsplash

Now we might want to consider how many trees are actually already on the planet. According to two articles, who partly find their sources in the UN Environment programme, there are 3,04 trillion trees already on the planet, it might seem like we already have enough trees and global warming isn’t a real issue. However these existing trees would only be enough to compensate for all the life on earth, not taking into account our massive Carbon footprint.

So in 2020 at the World Economic forum, The Trillion tree initiative was created to support the ‘UN- Decade of ecosystem restoration’. With a goal to plant one trillion trees before 2030, which corresponds to our calculation of 1,5 trillion. According to the Wikipedia page of The trillion tree initiative they had already planted about 14 billion trees on May 30th 2021, which is 1,4% of the goal. If they continue the project at this rate, the goal would be reached in early 2124. This was meant to be accomplished by 2030, and according to our calculations this wouldn’t even cover all of our emissions. Unless we lower our emissions, which, it seems, is going to be vital. Of course that is the correct thing to do, because in this way we eliminate the problem at the source.

I would like to end by saying that we still have a lot of work to do before we once more reach a healthy relationship with our planet and our home. Countermeasures must be taken and they must be taken now, not just when it comes to trees but also with regards to the oceans, green roofing, etc.

Lowering our emissions will also play a big role in the next decade, especially in terms of transport and the livestock industry, but also our overall use of plastics and fossil fuels must decrease drastically.

I call out to everyone to help solve this coming crisis, because the outcome will affect us all and thus we must work together and strive towards a better world.

How else will we survive on this planet?


This aricle was written on 05/12/2022, some info might be outdated.

- This article was published in june of 2019, you can read it here:,the%20very%20air%20we%20breathe.

- Published in october of 2020 this article is mostly concerned with the pollution caused by daily commutes. You can read it here:,of%2020%20km%20per%20day.

- These articles can be found at the links below, the last link points to the website of the UN Environment programme.,Nature%2C%20this%20is%20the%20case.

- If you would like to learn more or support this campaign to plant more trees, check out their website at:

- This page can be found at the following link:


About the Creator

Viggo Van Houtte

Writing about my experiences and discoveries throughout life. Productivity | Self improvement | Habit-building | Investing | Passive income | Sciences | Health

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Comments (1)

  • Viggo Van Houtte (Author)about a month ago

    Let me know what you think!

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