Burning fossil fuels pumps carbon dioxide into the air. That contributes to global warming. Through a process called photosynthesis, trees and plants help absorb some of that CO2. Inspired by nature, the US Department of Agriculture has one solution to help cut carbon: Plant more trees.
The USDA's new Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets has a big name and a fresh approach to cutting carbon. It's aim is to pair companies that produce a lot of carbon dioxide with private landowners to help plant new forests or crops to soak up that CO2.
Some critics argue that it's faster and cheaper to instead offer industry polluters economic incentives instead. They argue that trees take a long time to grow, whereas the industry could cut its pollution right now.
Still, the program is documenting different land-use activities. This helps create verifiable national standards for figuring out how different forest and crop-lands absorb carbon dioxide. It's an important step toward reducing the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.