I know I know. I’m a pessimistic downer. I have no faith in humanity. I just like to be on the other side of every argument to stir up controversy and watch the world burn around us.
I mean, that’s not true, but I’m sure many people would think that, hearing me say this new movement is just a basic waste of time. But is it a waste of time, or am I really pessimistic?
Let’s explore shall we? I’ll use the basic 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and their cousin How. It will be the most simplistic explanation of what’s going on, and why it won’t work.
An Internet personality and influencer, Mr. Beast, recently got 20,000,000 followers. As per requested by his fans, he set out to plant 20,000,000 trees. He contacted just about every YouTuber out there to make videos about this cause. One he seemed to have partnered with was Mark Rober. Together, they are calling on YouTubers and their fans to donate as little as one dollar to plant trees all over the world. They partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to get the trees planted.
Um, basically what I just said… they want to plant 20,000,000 trees all over the world. Donating one dollar will get one tree planted. It was a massive campaign with just about every YouTuber I watch putting out a video about the cause, or slapping an end card about the cause on one of their recent videos.
Ok, this format isnt really working. I honestly never really understood how to answer these questions without adding onto the word. So, where is this being promoted? The Internet, specifically YouTube, Twitter, etc. Where is this taking place? Uh, the planet Earth… Where can I donate? The #TeamTrees website.
Right now. You can donate right now. The goal is to “plant” 20,000,000 trees before 2020. So they gave themselves just under three months (they started in October 2019).
Ah! The good question. The question that’s going to bring this house of trees crumbling to the ground. Why? Why are they doing this? Why trees? Why such a push from all of YouTube? Why should you care? Why should you donate?
First off, let’s start with the obvious: they’re doing this because California is perpetually on fire these days    , and South American politicians are letting North American businessmen burn the rain forest so they can use the land to make even more business money   . Let’s be honest: we want to save the whales, then the coral, then the sea turtles… But no amount of metal drinking straws has stopped the restaurant industry from generating hundreds of thousands of tons of plastic waste . No one is vacuuming up the oceans . No one is straining debris from the rivers. In reality, it would take a huge paradigm shift in our everyday lives in order reduce waste, clean the environment permanently, and lower our carbon emissions. This is just the latest fad in the “saving mother Earth” category.
Which brings me to “why trees”? Trees are made of carbon. They soak it up and release oxygen. More importantly, there’s lots of CO2 in the air and TREES ARE MADE OF CARBON. So if we plant a bunch of trees they will soak up the carbon out of the atmosphere, and as a byproduct, give us clean air to breathe . But even more importantly, litterally everyone on the planet can grab a seed off of an already alive and growing tree, stuff it in the ground, and make sure no one chops it down. You need a permit to add on a sun porch to your house, but you don’t need anyone’s permission to plant a tree on your own property. Plus, planting a tree doesn’t significantly change the way you live your life. You can still drive your Hummer, use a different plastic straw every hour, let the water run while you brush your teeth, and buy disposable diapers because cloth diapers are disgusting what is this the 20’s. You simply plant a tree and then never have to do anything ever again, except NOT chop down the tree. This is an environmental movement everyone can take part in.
But what’s with the YouTube collab- I mean, why is this such a big thing on YouTube? Well, Mr. Beast is on YouTube, among other places, and let’s face it YouTube is huge. With millions of watchers every day, you’re going to get this message out to just about everyone on the Internet. However, there seems to be another reason. Mark Rober stated that this movement will show that YouTube can be a force for good. Which is strange to me because the last time I checked politicians are still bickering about whether or not video games turn kids into psychopaths. So who are we trying to convince that YouTube is actually a good place? I mean sure, there hasn’t been anything like this on YouTube that I can think of, unless you consider getting PewDiePie lots of followers is a worthy cause. So, I guess it is sort of a testing ground for “what can huge creator collabs produce.” But that’s all…
And why should you care? BECAUSE YOU LIVE ON THIS PLANET AND IT’S DYING HOW COULD YOU BE SO CALLOUS YOU ROTTEN HUMAN IF THAT’S WHAT YOU CALL YOURSELF!!! That’s not entirely wrong… however, there’s been many movements over the past few years alone. Why is this one any different? Because YouTube personalities care about it? Because your heroes care about it? Do you seriously let some random people on the internet tell you what to do with your life? But, besides the fact that we’re all mindless drones doing what the screens tell us to do, this, as stated, is a relatively simple movement to get behind. Although, you should understand what it is you’re backing.
People chop down trees for the wood. They use the wood in all sorts of applications. But those aren’t necessarily the people we’re trying to counteract with all this tree planting. We’re trying to replace all the trees that are senselessly chopped down to make room for factories, business development, and even grazing land for livestock. Much of the time, those trees are simply chopped and tossed, or burned down. So we’re replacing those trees.
But we’re also trying to save the environment by lowering our carbon footprint. More trees means less CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 is the reason our planet is warming up, causing the polar ice caps to melt, releasing fresh water into the oceans, disturbing aquatic environments, killing off sea life, and causing more frequent and more powerful natural disasters. If we can lower the CO2 we can stave off some of these effects.
But we’re also trying to show people that we do more than play video games, make huge Nerf guns, critique movies, and entertain Internet citizens with mindless fluff. We can collaborate and influence the real world in a positive way. We can call viewers to a good cause and show business people and politicians where our hearts are (and therefore, where our money will go…).
However, is this even going to work?
Kyle Hill from Because Science stated on one of his live streams that planting 20,000,000 trees probably wouldn’t affect the climate all that much (on it’s own). And doing calculations of ridiculous proportions is kind of his thing.
And where exactly are these trees being planted? The Arbor Day Foundation is the organization in charge of getting these trees planted. They say they will plant native trees. But where? Every person who owns land can plant trees on their land however, when ever, and why ever they want. But you can’t just go out onto public land and plant a bunch of trees. You also can’t plant a bunch of trees where there are already trees. They won’t grow, being choked to death by the foliage around them. If you’re going to plant trees on public lands you need to get the OK from the local government. That means permits, taxes, lobbying, etc. So, where exactly are these trees being planted?
And how long do you think they’re actually going to last? If there’s a drought, it’s going to be the young, newly planted trees that die first. If there’s a fire, it’s going to be the young, thin trees close to the ground that will burn first. Small saplings are more easily trampled, by either animals or humans or human contraptions. Small trees planted in places where tall grasses or other brush grows will either get choked or get chopped down with the rest of the brush during cleanups or simple grass cuttings. Even trees in a person’s own backyard will be subject to the current and future owners of the property. You might have planted a tree to affect the climate in a positive way, but that tree might be providing too much shade for the next occupants garden or patio. So they cut it down.
And with 20,000,000 trees being planted in the near future someone is going to think “well they just planted all these trees so now’s a good time to clear my land for [insert project here].” Whether it’s businessmen, politicians, private land owners… someone is going to chop down more trees because now we have more trees. And you can’t stop them. You can’t stop any of them. All you can do is plant trees on your private land, and possibly get the local government to plant trees in the parks or other land that’s not being used commercially.
In the end this won’t matter at all. Sure, YouTubers showed what they can do. People all across the globe donated to a worthy cause. Trees are being planted that may well brighten up local parks. But businessmen still conduct business, and politicians want to stay in office, and people who don’t “believe” in things like climate change are never going to push for environmentally friendly regulations. In the end, nothing really matters. Even though you tried so hard. And got so far. 🎵🎶
And why do I keep putting “planted” in quotations? Well, these donations are just now being collected. The actual planting of the trees has yet to be done. And like I already pointed out, you need a place to plant these trees. I know it’s the Arbor Day Foundation and all, but even they can’t just walk into city hall and say “we’re gonna plant a bunch of trees just where ever.” So, it’s going to take time to get 20,000,000 trees planted (BTW that’s twenty MILLION trees, just in case you were reading that number wrong). The counter on the website is just the number of donations they have received, not the number of trees actively planted.
But, ok, enough pessimism. How can you get involved? Donate to the website. Plant a tree in your back yard. Contact the Arbor Day Foundation and volunteer to plant trees. Spread the word on social media. Tell your friends and family why you chose to help this cause. And more importantly, don’t let strangers on the Internet influence you to do something that you don’t 100% believe in.
P.S. – Scientifically speaking, planting 20,000,000 trees will do nothing for the climate. But then again, I don’t think that’s what this was really about.