Can Aerial Reforestation Help Slow Climate Change? Discovery Project Earth Examines Re-Engineering the Planet's Possibilities

basil singer discovery project earth photo

photo: Discovery Channel

Here on TreeHugger reports about different geo-engineering projects to mitigate climate change come onto our radar relatively frequently. Some of them involved doing one thing or another to the oceans to change the way in which carbon is sequestered there, while others try to do things to the atmosphere to deflect incoming solar radiation.

Discovery Project Earth Premiere: Friday, August 22nd, 9 PM ET/PT
That said, the premier episode of Discovery Project Earth explores an interesting idea to help slow and possibly reverse deforestation, an increasing source of carbon emissions in many parts of the world. The idea: Reforest large swaths of land quickly via dropping seedlings from airplanes or helicopters.

I won't give away all the goods on how the show proceeds but here's the gist of it:Thousand Of Seed-Containing Bomblets Dropped to Reforest Mangrove Forest
Since it's too labor intensive and too slow to reforest large areas of land by hand, foot, shovel and trowel, why not try to use aircraft to drop thousands of small bomblets containing a tree seed (in the experiment in the show, mangrove seeds) and some soil over deforested areas? It would be much quicker than manual reforestation and the principle could be applied to pretty much any type of forest in the world.

discovery project earth task force photo

photo: Discovery Channel

As with most ideas, this is easier said than done. And through the course of the show you witness the successes and failures of the Project Earth Task Force——eco-designer Jennifer Languell, quantum physicist Basil Singer, and venture capitalist Kevin O'Leary—as they work with environmental engineer Mark Hodges to test his theory that aerial reforestation is a viable methodology.

Frankly, I was skeptical at first: Animation of glass-encased saplings being dropped from military cargo planes didn't seem to be the most eco-friendly option, extensive use of recycled footage didn't inspire confidence in me, and the fact that our eco-wunderkind arrive on the scene in a Hummer (!!) seemed odd in a show about global warming.

However, the idea of aerial reforestation and the team's progress is definitely interesting and worth watching. Don't worry, the team comes up with a more environmentally friendly seed delivery method.

More Geo-Engineering + Renewable Energy Explored in Future Episodes
Other episodes of Discovery Project Earth will explore geo-engineering concepts such as: Protecting glaciers from melting with giant blankets to reflect the sun's heat; seeding clouds over oceans to increase the ability of clouds to reflect solar radiation; scrubbing the ambient air using a 400-foot tall carbon scrubber; and creating a 100,000 square mile sunshade in space. Renewable energy concepts such as developing solar power in space and balloon-mounted wind turbines will also be examined.

Discovery Project Earth: Raining Forest airs Friday, August 22, 9pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel.

:: Discovery Project Earth
Artificial Wetlands, Super-Trees and Glacier Blankets: Oh My!
Geoengineering: A (Very) Risky Proposition Says Study
Pumping Sulfate Particles into the Stratosphere: Not Such a Hot Idea After All
Scientist Who Coined "Global Warming" Calls for the Deployment of 20 Million Carbon Scrubbers
Crazy Solar Shield Not 100% Crazy

Related Content on