• Agents of Change

    • A group of German scientists is planning to plant trees in hundreds of acres of desert around the globe, embarking on a mission to absorb tonnes of carbon dioxide.

    Reforesting the barren: planting trees in the desert to clean the environment / 

    The environment seems to have a new and peculiar ally. This is, unexpectedly, the Jatropha curcas, a venomous tree that may soon become a popular alternative to clean the carbon dioxide from the planet’s atmosphere. This plant, which requires small amounts of water, can grow on sandy or rocky land, and additionally, its seeds produce oil that can be used as biodiesel.

    Despite being native to Central America, its largest plantation is located on the African continent. Since it is so easy to grow, it has also been planted in South America, South East Asia, India and Africa. Taking advantage of the latter, a group of German scientists from the Hohenheim University, have decided to plant this species in over a billion acres, which would enable it to cleanse 27.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

    The trees would have to be planted close to the coastline and watered sporadically with fresh water. The group of scientists considers this to be a viable project since the plant is extremely resistant, and among other things, there are no insects or diseases that pose a real threat to this sturdy tree. Its cultivation is sustainable, and it has the additional benefit of producing renewable energy. Additionally it has an average lifespan of 40-50 years, and some trees have been known to live for a century.

    Projects that fight global warming are now considered to occupy places that millennially have been completely barren. Large extensions of land, degraded and deserted, can be easily transformed in order to potentiate them.  According to Volker Wulfmeyer, one of the project’s main researchers, this is the first time irrigation, desalinisation, carbon absorption, economic and atmospheric experts have agreed to analyse the viability of planting something on a massive scale in order to get rid of carbon dioxide.