What Would Happen if All Trees Disappeared?

Dead and fallen trees in a barren landscape

Philippe Bourseiller / Getty Images

It's a worst-case scenario, but it's one we should think about, considering how dependent humans are on trees for survival.

Imagine if there were no more trees in the world. It's an awful thought. No more shady, leafy canopies. No more scented pine needles on the ground. No more flowering magnolias or cherry blossoms. No more protection from frigid winter winds. The world would seem naked without trees.

But their loss would go far beyond the aesthetic. As the following infographic shows, over time it would be impossible for the world to go on existing without the presence of trees. We rely on trees for oxygen, for preventing flooding and erosion, for filtering pollutants, for generating rainfall that feeds our crops, and so much more. A world without trees would be no world for humans.

This should be all the more reason to fight deforestation, which continues at alarming rates worldwide. In 2016 the World Bank reported that the equivalent of 1,000 football fields (or 800 soccer pitches) of forest has been lost every hour since 1990. That's a total of 1.3 million square kilometres. Trees need our protection more than ever.

What if all the trees died infographic
Alton Greenhouses (used with permission) 

Infographic via Alton Greenhouses