Global Reset: #TeamTrees raises environmental awareness

YouTubers unite to plant 20 million trees by raising $1 per tree

by Mark Hu and Nina Gee

A large black number hovers momentarily at 19,999,966 on a live YouTube subscriber count and suddenly spikes past 20 million; James “Jimmy” Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, has just reached 20 million subscribers on YouTube. The ensuing torrent of comments and Reddit posts all prompt him to do something big to celebrate: plant 20 million trees to save the earth. And, on Oct. 25, that’s exactly what he did. Donaldson began a global campaign known as #TeamTrees to raise $20 million for the Arbor Day Foundation, the largest tree-planting nonprofit, to plant the same amount of trees by Dec. 2022.

The project, organized by Donaldson and Mark Rober, former NASA engineer and current YouTuber, has called the YouTube community together to spread the word to the world. Youtubers including the Try Guys, Smarter Every Day and The Slow Mo Guys are participating in encouraging their subscribers to donate.

The concept is simple: one dollar given, one tree planted. Donations have, as of now, reached 14.5 million trees, including donations from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke. All donations are sent directly to the Arbor Day Foundation which will then plant all the trees solely by individuals starting Jan. 2020.

“The twenty million trees are going to be planted by individuals in state and national forests and other government lands throughout the United States and all continents except for Antarctica, which will result in 1.24 million cars off the road per year,” Danny Cohn, spokesman for the Arbor Day Foundation said.

Varsha Rammohan

Although the trees will not fully prevent the spread of climate change, they are a part of the ongoing solution. By absorbing carbon dioxide as they grow, trees remove greenhouse gasses that remain trapped in the atmosphere and warm the Earth.

“As [trees] grow they take in carbon dioxide, and that’s one of the best ways to offset the carbon dioxide that we release,” Jeff Sutton, upper school AP Environmental Science teacher, said. “So if you can plant more trees than fossil fuel that you consume, you can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

With enough trees, the impacts will be felt at a worldwide level through saving water and removing pollution.

“They will result in 1.5 billion cubic meters of avoided water runoff which is the equivalent of filling the water bottle of every person on earth every day for a year, and they will remove 115,000 tons of chemical air pollution, which is enough gas to fill up 14,000 Goodyear blimps,” Cohn said.

Not only will trees reduce levels of greenhouse gasses, but also they will form microclimates, supporting animal life through the production of fruits and nuts.

“[Trees are] really good at conserving water which seems kind of intuitive because you’re like they hold water, you have to water them but the water kind of stays in the area,” Sutton said. “They’ll hold it in their tissue, so they can make microclimates and can cool cities down.”

Through eco-friendly efforts to protect the Earth, the Harker Green Team has supported the campaign from the start.

“Preserving our environment is something so important and luckily, funds are being placed in the well being of our planet,” Sachi Bajaj (11), secretary of the Harker Green Team, said. “Besides being key to improving our climate, the benefits of saving water, purifying the air, and potentially being a source of energy in the future are all reasons why [the Harker Green Team is] super supportive about this.”

Additional reporting by Irene Yuan.