Trees are common to all of us. They are friends, not strangers. They hold many of Nature’s secrets and are central to the lungs of the earth. Everyone knows how to plant a tree. They grow most everywhere. It does not cost much to plant trees, and they can be planted in abundance. Because trees absorb carbon — 50% of a tree is stored carbon — it makes sense to plant them by the billions.
In contrast, solutions to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the air often focus on the repair of our industrial infrastructure and are expensive. Be they solar, wind, nuclear power, or other forms of remediation, they not only cost a lot, but also take time to work out. They require massive time to innovate at a commercial level and then fund. This can add up to two generations to finance and bring to scale. Trees are the simplest technology for bringing health to the planet — if done on enough scale.
The only missing ingredients for reforesting the earth are imagination and leadership. And it’s not a lost investment, or a detour at all — because trees “replenish the earth” abundantly. Fed by local species, trees bring us together and are a response to the diversity of life in all parts of the world.
Overcoming our carbon liability has been largely a private obligation, but it is now a public responsibility. Because trees help settle a carbon deficiency — carbon provides tree permanency — forests are becoming valued as intact, standing forests. In many ways, Nature is the world’s main act. At an aggregate level, forest creation is an opportunity to bring natural capitalism into the orbit of business capitalism, allowing it to pay for itself, sustain itself, spread its scale, and connect to capitalism’s orbit. For capitalism helps internalize costs through creation and production rather than a penalty mechanism.
Natural capitalism uses the tools of capitalism to resolve ecological imbalances and nourish the planet. As natural capital goes to work for us all, it is no longer sacrificed to a world of industrial capital. The orbit of business capitalism suddenly embraces nature rather than leaving it unpriced. Once natural capital bridges to broader capitalism, these two once competitive forms of Earth’s resources no longer fight one another.
One is the tool for shaping the other. Capitalism’s genius can thereby effectively heal Nature’s hemorrhaging. Trees, which clean the air and purify the water, conserve the land and enrich the soil. Forests are nature’s most critical breathing organism. The cathedrals of forests are fundamental to the world’s transpiration.