back to article This is how you count all the trees on Earth

The Earth has three trillion trees and this is seven times more than was thought, until very recently, to exist. It is also half the number that existed before humanity went to work on the environment. We can deduce this through algorithms used to crunch reams of photographic data captured by satellite. But the headline figure …

  1. The Axe

    Good work, but why worry about CO2

    Why bother with a lower carbon footprint data centre when the time taken meant that so much CO2 was saved by doing the processing in a very short period of time. In any case the amount of CO2 used, even in the original case of 100 days would be so small as to make no difference to global climate. Don't forget that CO2 is a tiny percentage of the atmosphere, and man's CO2 is a small proportion of that tiny percentage.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Good work, but why worry about CO2

      Trees absorb CO2 and turn it into more tree.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Good work, but why worry about CO2

      Why bother

      Why bother putting a tenth item of litter into the bin when you've already put nine in there, and when you know there'll be a bloke around in the morning to sweep it up anyway.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Good work, but why worry about CO2

        >there'll be a bloke around in the morning to sweep it up anyway.

        But if you put it in the bin you'll put him out of work. Bad for the economy.

        Unless he's a Schrodinger's Immigrant - stealing our jobs and taking our benefits.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Good work, but why worry about CO2

          "But if you put it in the bin you'll put him out of work. Bad for the economy."

          I've always said that I could keep nurses in employment by going round punching people in the nose, but it doesn't make it right to do so.

          1. Little Mouse

            Re: Good work, but why worry about CO2

            Re "bad for the economy"

            Economies grow when your actions add value - i.e. you make something better than it was before or create something that people want.

            Making someone else tidy up after you merely prevents that person from doing other, more productive, work.

            1. ScottAS2

              Re: Good work, but why worry about CO2

              Exactly. It even has a name: the broken window fallacy.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, but...

    Have they determined if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

  3. Mike Shepherd

    Seven???

    "The Earth has three trillion trees...seven times more than was thought, until very recently...".

    With this enormous error factor, can climate prediction ever be more than extrapolating graphs?

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Seven???

      But that is what this project is all about - finding ways to count accurately, as opposed to extrapolating.

    2. StephenF

      Re: Seven???

      This even has a name: straw man argument

      The number of trees on the earth and climate prediction have nothing to do with each other. They're not predicting at the per-tree level.

  4. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    Beats the Hell out of the graph extrapolation so prevalent in "climate science" presently. I'm biased though. My approach to anything approximating a science (e.g. economics) uses lots of data collection and analyses to support or extinguish models (e.g. econometrics). If you cant enumerate it, it ain't science.

  5. Mark 85 Silver badge

    We talk to the trees but they don't talk back...

    So they need to send human counters in to the forest. Will they need to make roads? Clear some space for a campground? How will they mark the tree so they know it's been counted? I can hear the Greenies screaming now at this invasion of tree-space.

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: We talk to the trees but they don't talk back...

      This is central Niger we are talking about - i.e. the Sahel, which means lots of space between trees - and great terrain for manual double-checking. With the algorithms proved / improved - there will be no need for this extra step.

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I see... ok.. the article made the statement: Funding in place, they plumped for sub-Sarahan Africa for their test run as the lack of forestation made it easier to test those algorithms. Also, there were workers available on the ground to double-check the results by manually counting trees.

    I made the assumption that hand counting to verify until they get everything sorted was needed. I'll go stand in the corner and remind myself not to assume facts not in evidence.

    1. Mpeler
      WTF?

      Can't see the forest OR the trees

      And they'll be getting help from UEA and the Manniacs in filling their sparse matrices.....

      Isn't NASA supposed to be counting stars rather than trees? Or is this a new part of their ISIS outreach program?

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