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Treeconomics


If we have ten years to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions, the whole world needs to mobilize. We need to revive all the best habits from ecological civilizations and cultures past and present. We need to become more sensitive and supportive of each other and of nature. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and conserve all existing structures and technologies. We need to restructure our world into a cooperative, democratic, radically sensible human organism.

And we need to stop cutting trees. Everywhere. Now. Start where you are.

And we need to stop all ecosystem destruction. Everywhere. Now. Start where you are.

Here's why:

Trees are never "done" or "mature". Unlike us, they keep growing. Older trees continue to absorb carbon, growing in density, height and girth … and, counter-intuitively for us, they absorb carbon at a faster rate as they grow older. In retrospect, once you let go of the idea of a mature person, this is obvious: a larger growing organism has a greater growing metabolism.

 

The death of a tree after a few centuries doesn’t matter, because we have less than a decade to bring the earth back to net zero in greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Every time a tree is cut down, not only is one removing an entire ecosystem’s worth of carbon: one is also releasing about half of the tree’s stored  carbon in processing.

 

But, worse, one is destroying an ever-improving carbon-removal machine!

 

Imagine if expensive co2-removal machines were installed by one group of people, and a subsequent group dismantled them. That’s what is happening with all tree removal today.


Given the deadline on civilization here, no trees should be cut down, and no ecosystems destroyed. We should be re-wilding like mad, encouraging an ecological global culture.

 

By the same token, no old buildings should be torn down, and no technology thrown away, since new resources would be required (like the removal of trees and ecosystems) to replace them.

 

So, as a net calculation, the construction of wood buildings does not sequester carbon. It stops the carbon sequestration provided by the lives (trees and wildlife) that donate all the materials in the supply chain.