How many trees are on planet Earth?
While this seems like someone out there should have the answer, up until recently, nobody knew the exact number.
According to NPR, new data suggests that there are over 3 trillion trees, and counting.
Originally, scientists estimated that the number was in the billions, and given the ever-troubling statistics presented regarding global warming, it was assumed that this number was a lot lower than it should be.
In their report, NPR writes that the quest for the true tree count came about when leader of the study, Thomas Crowther of the Yale Climate and Energy Institue was working at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies a few years prior. One of his friends was working with the United Nations and Climate Change, with a goal of planting a billion trees.
To the average person, 1 billion of anything seems like a lot. But what exactly do billions of trees look like?
As it turns out, nobody had a clue.
“They didn’t know if planting a billion trees was going to add 1% of the world’s trees, add 50% of the world’s trees,” Crowther told NPR. “They didn’t even know if it was even possible to fit a billion trees on Earth.”
Prompted by his friend’s questioning and his own curiosity, Crowther began a tree census in hopes of discerning just how many trees exist on our planet today.
Now that the new data has been released and is being published, experts across the globe are pleased to have such new and comprehensive data.
“It’s quite rigorous. It’s using all of the best available data that we have at a global scale, so I think it’s a nice advance,” University of Maryland geographer, Matt Hansen, told NPR.
But while the amount of trees existing on earth has surpassed just about everyone’s expectations, that doesn’t mean we should be hanging up our conservation efforts just yet.
“My fear is that a lot of people might think, ‘OK, well, there’s loads of trees, so who cares about the environment, there’s plenty left! No worries!'” said Crowther.
Instead, Crowther emphasizes, the goal is to create more of an awareness and understanding of our global forest.
To boot, Crowther’s friend will be aiming to plant 1 trillion trees instead of 1 billion. Trees aren’t just good for the environment. Towns and cities can also use trees to keep noise pollution relatively low, given that trees absorb approximately 40% of sounds.