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India plants 220 million trees in a single day

Using trees to fight climate change

In just one day, more than a million people in India planted 220 million trees. It's all thanks to a government campaign to combat climate change and improve the environment, according to The Associated Press

The trees were planted in the country's most populous state, AP reports. The saplings were all planted by 5 p.m. Friday in northern Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of more than 200 million people.

Forest official Bivhas Ranjan said students, lawmakers, officials and other residents planted dozens of species of saplings along roads, railroad tracks and in forests. The goals are to increase forest cover and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted a plea to young people to "save Mother Earth" and improve the environment for future generations. "We set the target of 220 million because Uttar Pradesh is home to 220 million people," he said.

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Indian schoolchildren hold saplings distributed by the government in Prayagraj, India, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP Photo

"The whole process is online," state government spokesman Awanish Awasthi said. "The pits are geo-tagged and the saplings carry a QR code. So we can record how many saplings are planted and where."

India has pledged to have trees cover at least one-third of its land area, but its efforts are complicated by its population and rapid industrialization.

According to a recent study, scientists say planting a trillion trees globally could be the single most effective way to fight climate change. Since trees absorb carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming, a worldwide planting initiative could remove a substantial portion of heat-trapping emissions from the atmosphere.

But rather than adding trees, in many parts of the world, they're being cut down on a massive scale. Deforestation is a major concern in the Amazon, where acres of rainforests are being cut down every day to make room for agriculture.

So while reforestation may be the best solution, halting deforestation and reducing animal agriculture would also provide immediate benefits. 

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