Trump Tries Trillion Trees

Trump Tries Trillion Trees

5th Feb 2020

A global initiative to plant 1,000,000,000,000 trees drew national attention Tuesday as Trump mentioned the effort in his state of the union address

As it happens, Trump’s comment, in a highly political speech, fully aligns with the non-partisan aims of Treeboard, which uses wood but is committed to replanting trees and forests to make sure timber is a renewable and sustainable resource.

“Days ago, I announced that the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative, an ambitious effort to bring together government and the private sector to plant new trees in America and around the world,” Trump said in his only reference to the environment on Tuesday.

Another Republican—Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas—has taken credit for promoting the proposal in Washington.

Overall, Republican politicians are opposed to curbing the extraction or use of fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases and prevent global warming. Many say they doubt the science that points to a human impact on the climate. Indeed Trump is pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord that was a priority for his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Still, many Republicans understand that voters of all stripes are worried about the environment, including preserving animals and plants.

Thus initiatives such as the trillion-trees effort seem to be growing in popularity. Trees, of course, remove carbon dioxide from the air, but planting them doesn’t really affect oil and gas extraction or internal-combustion engines.

Hard-core environmental groups aren’t impressed. “In the face of a climate emergency, Trump’s ‘trillion trees’ initiative is like trying to put out a raging dumpster fire with a squirt gun,” said Greenpeace USA's climate-campaign director, Janet Redman. “Planting trees is not a substitute for cutting carbon emissions or addressing the unjust impacts of extractive industries on marginalized communities.”

Everyone would agree that using plants to help with the growing carbon dioxide problem is better than doing nothing. “As the soil warms, carbon emissions from the soil will increase, particularly in the high-latitude arctic and sub-arctic regions,” Thomas Crowther of ETH Zurich wrote in an influential paper a year ago. The solution: Planting 1.2 trillion more trees could cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions.

The broad trillion-trees effort stems from a loose confederation of governments and organizations, including the United Nations (which also oversaw the Paris climate accord). UN experts have plenty of advice, including for the 1 billion small farmers around the world. 

As far as we’re concerned, wood for Treeboard’s products is overwhelmingly leftover or reclaimed and thus doesn’t reduce forested areas in the U.S., where all our trees are sourced. We have red oak from naturally fallen trees in Maryland, white oak from weakened trees removed by homeowners in Washington, D.C., and some cherry and maple that a North Carolina sawmill acquired from home builders clearing new lots.

Even though we source our wood in sustainable fashion, we are also committed to planting new trees to replace the ones that fell or had to be cut down. So far, most of the trees we have planted are on our own property, but we’re looking for partners and landowners who can help us expand our tree-planting footprint, especially in the mid-Atlantic states. If you’re interested, please contact us.

What do you think about this issue or environmental policy in Washington? Please leave a comment below or contact us.