Worldwide project to plant 1 billion trees launches
Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai launched a project Wednesday to plant a billion trees worldwide to...
NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai launched a project Wednesday to plant a billion trees worldwide to help fight climate change and poverty.
Maathai, who in 2004 became the first African woman and first "green" activist to win the Nobel Peace Prize, urged people from the United States to Uganda to plant trees to combat global warming and to make a long-term commitment.
"Anybody can dig a hole, anybody can put a tree in that hole and water it. And everybody can make sure that the tree they plant survives," she said at a U.N. meeting on climate change in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
"There are 6 billion of us and counting. So even if only one-sixth of us each plant a tree, we will definitely reach the target [next year]," she told reporters.
Maathai, 66, became Africa's best-known environmentalist after her Green Belt Movement planted about 30 million trees around Africa in a drive to slow deforestation and erosion.
Her work was praised by the Nobel committee as a step to help end poverty and avert potential conflicts over scarce building materials and firewood.
Some 189 nations are meeting in Nairobi to explore options for a global agreement to combat climate change, which experts say is worsened by rampant deforestation around the globe.
Scientists blame the past century's 1-degree rise in average global temperatures at least in part on the accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — byproducts of power plants, automobiles and other fossil-fuel burners.
Achim Steiner, the head of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP), said planting a billion trees would soak up some 250 million tons of carbon dioxide warming the atmosphere.
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