In April, three environmental activists in New Zealand launched the global reforestation project in an effort to counteract negative effects caused by the Trump administration’s dismantling of Obama-era climate policy.
Dr. Daniel Price, Adrien Taylor and Jeff Willis, all in their 20s, said they felt compelled to act after Trump signed an executive order in March that essentially prioritized the fossil fuel industry over the environment.
“We wanted something tangible that people could do that would actually have a physical impact on what the U.S. government is doing,” Price, a climate scientist and glaciologist, told HuffPost.
Under the Trump administration, U.S. commitment to combating man-made global warming by reducing carbon emission has suffered major setbacks.
During his first six months in office, Trump appointed fellow climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, reduced regulations on coal development, and pulled out of the Paris Agreement, a landmark international climate action pact.
“[It’s a] systematic dismantling of U.S. climate policy at a time when it’s absolutely critical that we start accelerating our efforts on climate change,” Price said.
“The science is getting more and more alarming,” he added, referencing a new study released this week that found there’s almost no chance the Paris Agreement goals can be met. “It’s pretty worrying stuff.”
The goal is for “Trump Forest” to grow so large that it can offset additional carbon released into the atmosphere should the White House roll back the Clean Power Plan, legislation enacted under the Obama administration to combat global warming.
To hit that target, Price said over 10 billion trees, covering an area roughly the size of Kentucky, would need to be donated. It’s a lofty goal, Price said, but it’s not their only one.
Aside from planting trees, Price said he hoped individuals involved in the project would gain a greater understanding about climate change, one of the most pressing problems facing the planet.
“This is one part of the bigger picture,” he said. “We’re not going to get ahead of this problem if people don’t understand what it is.”
The “forest” itself is not based in one specific location. Instead, participants can use the project’s website to either donate to Eden Reforestation Projects, a charity that will use the money to plant trees in Madagascar, or make a donation in Trump’s name to a local tree-planting organization.
This week, the number of trees pledged to “Trump Forest” surpassed the 50,000 mark. To help move the project forward, Price said the group is hoping to attract major corporate sponsorship, though they’ve had some trouble convincing companies that fighting climate change is an apolitical undertaking.
Despite the project’s namesake, “the founders have no desire to meddle with left- or right-leaning politics; their only goal is to call out — and offset — climate ignorance,” according to a “Trump Forest” press release.
“It’s just a cross-party issue,” Price said. “It really doesn’t matter what political party you’re from for this issue.”
He explained the trio just thought it would be “pretty cool” to be able to say in 30 years that they didn’t stand by idly as Trump pulled the plug on U.S. climate action, but instead “planted a global forest that offset all those extra emissions he put out.”
“When faced with monumental stupidity, you have to fight back with monumental collective action,” Price added.
To learn more about taking action with “Trump Forest,” click here.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that it would take 110 billion trees to offset additional carbon released into the atmosphere should the Trump administration roll back the Clean Power Plan. It would take 10 billion trees, according to Price.