How to manage a forest in a time of climate crisis

In 2007, Richard Branson, the British business magnate, offered a $25 million prize to anyone who can invent a device capable of removing significant volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Andy Kerr, a noted Oregon environmentalist, drew a picture of a tree and sent it in. After all, a tree performs the job of sucking carbon out of the air far better than any technology yet devised by humans. But Kerr didn’t win, foiled by contest rules specifying the winner must be the inventor of such a device, and it’s certain neither Kerr nor anyone else invented the tree. An artificial tree might win if it could perform the implausible feat of inhaling CO2.

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