India Could Achieve 33% Tree Cover with New Plan

The Indian government has a new and ambitious plan for reforestation. Learn about the energy and economic benefits of trees, and whether or not it's likely the plan will ever come to fruition.

India is one of the world’s most populous nations, and also a site of great controversy when it comes to natural resources. According to one source, the country has more environmental conflict than any other place in the world. But the government is hoping to change that with a recent big step.

The Minister of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change announced that India will spend $6.2 billion to build new forests. The outpouring of money will be an attempt for India to achieve its goal of 33% tree cover, which would represent a carbon sink of 2.5 billion tons. A carbon sink is “anything that absorbs more carbon than it releases,” though it’s important to note that how much carbon a forest absorbs can change depending on various factors, such as the weather. As such, it’s pretty difficult to estimate what the overall impact of the new forest development would be.

However, we do know that trees do a lot of good when it comes to energy costs. Placing trees around buildings, for example, can make a 30% reduction in the need for air conditioning, and the effect of one young, healthy tree has been equated with that of 10 air conditioning units going 20 hours a day. As a whole, 100 million mature trees growing around homes in the U.S. would save a collective $2 billion per year in energy costs. With those kinds of stats, it seems as though trees will have a huge role to play as climate change and development both continue.

But not everyone is impressed by India’s latest announcement. Corruption is a concern for some people, who say that forestry officials sometimes burn down their own reforestation efforts when they fear they are not close enough to meeting a given target and they need a backup plan. Others wonder how the government will handle the reality of people who live on, or make a living off of, land that would be reappropriated for forest cultivation.

The politics could certainly get messy, and the situation brings up questions of the current good vs. the long-term good. However, given India’s large population and energy needs, spending additional money on trees to go somewhere probably isn’t such a bad idea.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Elizabeth Warren's plan to forgive student loan debt could lead to an economic boom

A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?

Photo credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
  • The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
  • The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
Keep reading Show less

Banned books: 10 of the most-challenged books in America

America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.

Nazis burn books on a huge bonfire of 'anti-German' literature in the Opernplatz, Berlin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
  • Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
  • Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
Keep reading Show less

Supreme Court to hear 3 cases on LGBT workplace discrimination

In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.

(Photo by Andres Pantoja/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
  • The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
  • Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
Keep reading Show less