How Many Trees Need to Be Planted to Help to Solve China’s Air Pollution?

Research reports that I’ve read focus on how trees give particles a place to settle or impact on, rather than sucking up particles. Across 10 US cities, the highest estimate was that tree cover reduces the smaller PM2.5 particles by 0.24%. At that rate, how much more tree cover would we need to reduce PM2.5 by 50%? At that rate, we’d need to multiply tree cover by 208 times!

From a big-picture perspective, it makes the most sense to cut down on pollution at the source. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper to (1) put emissions control technology on smokestacks and (2) remove old polluting cars that lack catalytic converters than it is to try to suck up all those particles after they’re already in the air.

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