Neel is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Prior to Heatmap, he was a science and climate reporter at Vox, an editorial fellow at Audubon magazine, and an assistant producer at Radiolab, where he helped produce The Other Latif, a series about one detainee's journey to Guantanamo Bay. He is a graduate of the Literary Reportage program at NYU, which helped him turn incoherent scribbles into readable stories, and he grew up (mostly) in Bangalore. He tweets sporadically at @neel_dhan. Read MoreRead More
Marc Benioff and Bill Gates Are Feuding About Trees
Trees are wonderful, but Gates is probably right.
This got me:
The background here is that Bill Gates recently said trees are “less proven” as reliable carbon offsets and it’s “complete nonsense” to think planting trees could single-handedly solve climate change. Both are accurate statements. He also said, “Are we the science people or are we the idiots?” which Marc Benioff, the tech billionaire who’s trying to plant a trillion trees, might have taken personally.
As Alan Buis wrote in a 2019 NASA feature, while existing trees do indeed sequester incredible amounts of carbon, planting trees on the scale needed to negate the impacts of fossil fuels will take billions of acres of more land than the forested area that exists on our planet. Besides which those trees will take a century or more to mature.
Benioff is right to want to protect trees, but focusing on trees instead of a reduction in fossil fuels is exactly the kind of red herring Republicans and oil executives have been pushing for years. Plus, tree-based carbon offsets are often fake.