February 25, 2015
Imagine you are the president of the world. The well-being of all the people on planet Earth is in your hands. Most of your scientists tell you that the world is warming due to greenhouse gases released by the various activities you generously allow to take place in order to provide for your 7 billion subjects. 
If the world warms up by more than 2 degrees celsius from pre-industrial levels, most of your scientists tell you, then unpredictable consequences including rising sea levels, desertification and increasingly strong swings in the weather will take a toll on the mankind you so graciously govern. There are many causes of this "global warming", including the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere. However, there is one even more worrying cause: deforestation, or the loss of forests.
Your analysts tell you that each year 26 billion trees are cut down, which roughly equals the area of England. While your subjects try very hard to replant the trees they cut down, they are still much better at cutting than at replanting. In fact, they are so efficient at cutting trees and so inefficient at planting them that 11 billion trees, representing the area of New York state, are lost each year.
Each of these 11 billion trees could store 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide every year, together sequestering 240 million metric tons of CO2 annually. This would offset the CO2 emissions that the whole United Kingdom releases by generating electricity. But remember: you are losing 11 billion trees every year, so last year's 11 billion could have offset the emissions of some other country, say Mexico. In 13 years, if you did not lose any trees, you would have offset the electricity-related emissions of the United States. In 22 years, you would get rid of China's emissions. 
The message is clear. You need to plant trees at least as fast as you cut them down. But how could this be done? You have two basic options: lower the number of trees that are cut or increase the number of trees that are planted. By ordering your subjects to cut fewer trees, you could face lots of poverty and discontent, and could see your esteemed presidency come to an inglorious end. After all, people need wood for building, furniture, fuel, and other purposes.
So you need to plant trees faster. But how could you do that? Your subjects cut trees using chainsaws, huge harvester machines, and other mechanized means. Cutting trees is a scientific, industrialized process. On the other hand, tree-planting is mostly done by hand. It is a tiresome, laborious process that is highly inefficient when compared with tree-cutting. To combat this industrial-scale deforestation, you have only one means: find someone who can enable industrial-scale reforestation.
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