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How Many Trees Do We Need?

How Many Trees Do We Need? thumbnail

A city like New York (18.6 million people) should require 55.8 million trees to provide its oxygen.

Is it possible that we could wreck the atmosphere enough that humans would suffocate for a lack of air to breathe? Probably not. Still, it’s not a chance worth taking.
Earth’s atmosphere is 78 percent nitrogen and human activities add only very slightly to that, although now more than all the natural sources. 20.9 percent of what’s up there is the oxygen we need to breathe. Water is about 1 percent. The remainder — less than one percent — is all the other gases, including all the greenhouse gases.
Most people think we get our oxygen from trees, and this is true in part. Trees release oxygen when they make glucose from carbon dioxide and water — a net gain of one molecule of oxygen for every atom of carbon layered into a tree. Estimates vary on how many trees it takes to produce the oxygen required by one human, and one might expect that because the amount of oxygen produced by a tree depends on its species, age, health, and surroundings.
A human breathes about 9.5 metric tons of air in a year, but oxygen only makes up about 21 percent of that air and we only extract a little over a third of the oxygen from each breath. That works out to a total of about 740 kg of oxygen per year.
A 2-ton sycamore tree produces about 100 kg of oxygen per year. A 100-ft Northern Spruce, according to Northwest Territories Forest Management, 18″ diameter at its base, produces 6,000 pounds of oxygen (2,727 kg).
According to Environment Canada, the average tree produces 260 pounds of oxygen per year (118 kg). If we accept that as a good estimate, we each need about 6 mature trees to support ourselves.
A city like New York (18.6 million people) should require 112 million trees to provide its oxygen. It has those — in the Taconics, Adirondacks, Poconos, and Berkshires — although it shares them with Newark, Philadelphia, Hartford, Albany and others, so maybe not enough for everyone. Cities like Mexico City (21 million), Mumbai (21 million), Sao Paolo (21 million), Shanghai (24 million), Delhi (25 million) and Tokyo (38 million) are straight out of luck.
Fortunately for all of us, ocean phytoplankton and coastal mangroves also make oxygen. Not so fortunately, both of those sources are being destroyed by climate change and reckless development.
Are we in trouble? Not any time soon.
Free oxygen did not exist in the atmosphere until about 2.4 billion years ago during the Great Oxygenation Event, when oceanic cyanobacteria learned to produce oxygen by photosynthesis, setting off the greatest mass extinction in history. Say goodbye to all the happy anaerobes. They either went underground or died.
Over the next 2.4 billion years, cyanobacteria made a lot of oxygen. That said, we are not entirely out of the woods, so to speak. Most organisms have evolved to live in an environment that has a very specific set of conditions. We have come to rely on air containing about 21 percent oxygen.
That concentration has varied over time, with the normal equilibrium up to about 600 million years ago being about 15% but then rising and peaking at about 30% around 280 million years ago and gradually declining since. It has never been less than 20% in human evolutionary history. How low it can go before humans feel a need for some breathing space is anyone’s guess. By destroying all the natural sources — forests, corals, mangroves — while also polluting the atmosphere, we are putting a lot at risk.


That blue halo that colors the Earth in space is less about the color of our oceans than the scattering of light from the wavelengths of the gases in our atmosphere. As we destroy that balance, particularly the relative proportion of oxygen, we may just lose that halo. We could lose a lot more.

The Great Change by Albert Bates

51 Comments on "How Many Trees Do We Need?"

  1. john kelley on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 3:43 pm 

    We can think that green plants breath in carbon dioxide,fix the carbon in the plant structure and breath out oxygen.As the plant sheds leaves over the years and eventually dies it oxidizes.Whether that is fast as in burning ,or quietly rotting away on the forest floor the outcome is that the exact amount of oxygen the plant breathed out is removed from the atmosphere and recombined with the carbon.The dead plant breathes in oxygen and breathes out carbon dioxide.The whole process is a balanced equation.To provide oxygen for the people of New York we would have to bury 112 million trees so they didnt oxidize.When we burn a lump of coal in the atmosphere it will remove exactly as much oxygen as the green plant it came from produced back in the day .Just sayin.

  2. DerHundistLos on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 4:59 pm 

    The cruelty and stupidity of people, particularly those residing in DJT country, knows no bounds.

  3. Boat on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 5:13 pm 


    An announcer saw a play and exclaimed ‘he’s out of his cotton picking mind”. OMG thought all the cotton pickers. What an insult to smart cotton pickers. Then one cotton picker in a rage blurted, “that’s cotton picking bs”. He was hung at sunset the next day for insensitivity. The end.

  4. Anonymouse1 on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 6:05 pm 

    Boatwetard, has your retard school managed to raise enough funds to be able to continue caring for you? I hope they do manage to raise enough funds to find a spot for you again. Retards require specialized levels of care, as you have proven countless times, well, everytime you open your stupid virtual piehole actually.

  5. DerHundistLos on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 6:05 pm 

    Well, Boat, just wait until a benevolent ET species engages in human roundups. Instead of the stench of fear from rattlesnakes removed from their natural environment and placed in vats awaiting live skinning, it will be the stench of fear exuded by humans as they await their live skinning. Of course, begin with the fucks down in Texas who take such sick and twisted pleasure in causing unspeakable cruelty and death on the other species.

    This spectacle demonstrates the fundamental evil and sickness of the human condition. And these people see nothing wrong with wha they are doing. Makes me sick and angry.

  6. Boat on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 7:33 pm 


    Lol, human roundups by aliens will be added to my list of fears.

  7. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 7:35 pm 

    UBS model shows the global economy is having a painful year in 2018

  8. makati1 on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 7:50 pm 

    “How Many Trees Do We Need?”

    Answer: More than we have.

  9. fmr-paultard on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 7:52 pm 

    dearhund i’m a tard, u a tard and i explained to u that if u have probing we’ll talk.
    just cuz fbi investigate doesn’t mean cattle mutilation. as a matter of fact taht fbi investigated means desperation factor was tuned to maximum

    nuff said.

  10. makati1 on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 8:04 pm 

    MM, GDP numbers are ALL bullshit. Especially those from Western countries. Even if you assume that Asian numbers are only half of what they claim, they are still well over the fake claims of the Us. If it were not for Asia, world GDP would be in the negative side of the chart. Contraction is happening in the Us. Growth is still happening in the East. Business Insider is not going to tell you that.

  11. makati1 on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 8:05 pm 

    BTW: 2018 GDP is only guesses, not fact.

  12. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 8:14 pm 


    IMF says China’s complex fiscal system is in need of a crucial overhaul

  13. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 8:17 pm 


    I know the US GDP is all an illusion since 2000. I talked about this in my manifesto. You obviously ignored it.

  14. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 8:20 pm 

    OMG the trees are dying! Cue Greg the eco warrior! Global warming is going to kill us all! We must slay the big bad oil wolf!

  15. makati1 on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 8:43 pm 

    MM, I ignore a lot of bullshit coming out of you and Davy. I also do not go back to see what I missed when I am not on the PO site,which is about 95% of my day. PO is a distraction between more important things.

    To use the IMF numbers or articles you must realize that they are owned by the Us and spin the Us story, not always reality. They never delve int the $200+ Trillion that the Us is in debt but not publicized. The promised paymnets for things like SS and government employees retirement, veteran’s benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, welfare, food stamps, etc. Those are all on top of the claimed 21 Trillion already owed from borrowing. The only way that $200+ Trillion will not be paid is if the Us no longer exists as a country.

    China and Russia are the new “enemies” so you are not going to see anything good about them from US controlled sources. It’s called “propaganda”. I remember when the spin was Vietnam. Chins and Russia were “friends” then.

  16. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 8:51 pm 


    The IMF plans on changing their headquarters to China within the next decade. They have already announced this a long time ago. You know nothing and you just make up stuff.

  17. makati1 on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 8:53 pm 

    “War Propaganda and the Fundamentalism of Western Media Control”

    “Lately, the West has gone clearly berserk. The more it is scared of losing control over the brains of billions of people in all corners of the world, the more aggressively it is screaming, kicking and making a fool of itself….

    Huge funds are now being allocated for the mortal propaganda onslaught, originating predominantly in both London and Washington. Millions of pounds and dollars have been allocated and spent, officially and openly, in order to ‘counter’ the voices of Russian, Chinese, Arab, Iranian and Latin American people; voices that are finally reaching ‘the Others’ -the desolate inhabitants of the ‘global south’, the dwellers of the colonies and neo-colonies; the modern-day slaves living in the ‘client’ states…

    People in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America are beginning to realize that they have been fooled, cheated, lied to; that the so called ‘education’ and ‘information’ coming from the West have been nothing else other than shameless indoctrination campaigns….

    The Anti-Western or more precisely, anti-imperialist coalition is now solid like steel. Because it is one great coalition of victims, of people who know what rape is and what plunder is, and what thorough destruction is. They know precisely what is administered by the self-proclaimed champions of freedom and democracy – by the Western cultural and economic fundamentalism….

    The extent of Western ideological control of the world is degenerate, truly perverse. Its media and ‘educational’ outlets are fully at the service of the regime.”

    “But the world is waking up and confronting this deadly cultural and political fundamentalism.”

  18. makati1 on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 9:33 pm 

    Mm, the Us controlled IMF can be located in Hell and it would still be Us controlled. However, there does seem to be some move away from Us control. The billionaires that benefit from IMF investments see that the Us is going down and China is rising up and they are moving the ship to a new dock. I should have said that the IMF is controlled by the Us oligarchs, not the elected Us government. The same ones buying homes in New Zealand.

  19. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 9:37 pm 

    Western firms primed to cash in on Syria’s oil and gas ‘frontier’

  20. Boat on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 9:58 pm 


    You can move and work anywhere in the US you want. There are smart phones, TV’s, news papers and a plethora of various activities one can choose from for entertainment. Yes, a deadly culture based on doing what you want. Lol

  21. Boat on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 10:00 pm 

    Putin thinks Netflix is brain washing. Lol Wonder what Clog thinks around memorial day and the 4th of July.

  22. john kelley on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 10:06 pm 

    Two oxygen to one carbon ? We should be able to learn how much fossil fuel is still trapped underground by measuring the free oxygen in the atmosphere.Concentrations of fossil fuels are using us to bring themselves to the surface and then they use us to rapidly dispurse their concentrated energy into the environment.The result is increased disorder which accumulates. Climate change is one expression of this disorder.Climate change is merely a symptom of the disease.Cure the disease and the symptoms go away.I think The Oil Drum diagnosed the disease and reorganized to address a cure.Reading most of your replies makes me think I misunderstood.

  23. makati1 on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 10:59 pm 

    Boat, have you tried to relocate in the Us? I bet not or you would not be spouting bullshit. Try it and see. Not easy or even possible without a lot of $$$. I can live here because I have the ability to relocate most anywhere in the world that I prefer to live. AND the resources to do so. I prefer to live in the Ps. No regrets.

    BTW: I have not had to have a job for over 10 years. Retired. No taxes. No property to worry about. No licenses needed. No vehicle owned. No government looking over my shoulder when I piss. True freedom. Something you will never have in the Us.

  24. Boat on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 11:29 pm 


    I have lived in 5 states and owned homes in 3 of them. Moving is easy. You claim easy movement around the world. BS, not in China, Russia, Syria and N Korea. Not to mention Shiria law countries. Get the drift? Corrupt countries want controll of the masses.
    You talk up these countries but reality doesn’t match the rhetoric.

  25. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 11:42 pm 


    Who the hell moves to North Korea or Syria? I don’t think those are very reasonable locations.. God are so dumb.

  26. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 11:44 pm 


    And what about Christian sharia law? Your sate of TexASS knows it well. They execute woman and the mentally handicapped. And the US has more people in jail than any other country on earth. Even more than the Soviet Union did under the height of Stalin. And we have more laws than any other country. And more state police officers.

  27. Boat on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 11:46 pm 


    Don’t be rude and diss countries mak likes. He likes short, brown and controlled.

  28. Boat on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 11:51 pm 

    Most laws are unfunded mandates or there would be many more in jail. Hell you should be in jail. That isn’t Christian law, we have German law, tainted by the English and the Irish. Our immigrants.

  29. MASTERMIND on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 11:53 pm 

    This is how I picture boat in real life

  30. makati1 on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 12:32 am 

    Boat, have lived does not mean you can do so today. Many things have changed. Again, I suggest you try it.

    BTW: My business partner HAS lived in Dubai, the Us, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the last 20 years. Many things are possible if you try. Please re-read my comment and note that I said “Most countries”. There are 190+ of them today. and eliminating 10% of them still leaves a lot of options.

  31. makati1 on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 12:36 am 

    Also, Boat, you are stooping to MM and Davy’s level with such assertions as “He likes short, brown and controlled”. You, on the other hand prefer living in a police state, surrounded by fat druggies and loads of cheap, brown labor you can exploit. Typical greedy American. All the while dreaming of a nice unearned retirement from your “investments”. That is a delusion you will live to regret, I think. I’m more secure than you will EVER be.

  32. makati1 on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 12:37 am 

    Hahahaha! MM, that made my day!

  33. DerHundistLos on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 1:13 am 


    According to you, the US is devoid of corruption and thus does not want to control its population.

    Truly Boatard logic at its finest.

  34. DerHundistLos on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 1:18 am 

    By the way dumbass, my reply was meant to be interpreted as an allegory, although I realize this literary technique is too sophisticated for your little pinhead. You and Retarded Paul are birds of a feather.

    Yes, I realize you have owned three mansions in five different states. So what? Rather than infer intelligence, it demonstrates exactly the inverse.

  35. makati1 on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 3:50 am 

    Following up on an above comment, some GDP figures to consider:

    “Phl entering ‘golden age’ for economic growth’ – ADB.”

    “In its 2018 Asian Development Outlook 2018 released on Wednesday, April 11, ADB projected the Philippine economy to grow by 6.8 percent for this year and 6.9 percent for 2019, slightly higher than its full-year average of 6.7 percent in 2017. …

    “Elsewhere in the region, the report projected growth in Asia and the Pacific as a whole to hit 6 percent in 2018 and 5.9 percent in 2019, slightly down from the 6.1 percent in 2017.

    Southeast Asia, in particular, is projected to maintain its 2017 growth rate of 5.2 percent for 2018 and 2019, driven by strong investments and consumption in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand; and industrial expansion in Vietnam.”

    Get ‘out of the box’ and widen your education: or

  36. Davy on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 4:31 am 

    “Also, Boat, you are stooping to MM and Davy’s level with such assertions as “He likes short, brown and controlled”.
    You are the racist bigot billy 3rd world. I am constantly dissed by you and your board Nazi racist friends about being race and ethnicity transparent. LIAR

    “You, on the other hand prefer living in a police state, surrounded by fat druggies and loads of cheap, brown labor you can exploit. Typical greedy American. All the while dreaming of a nice unearned retirement from your “investments”. That is a delusion you will live to regret
    Also, billy 3rd world, you are stooping to the level you said I was stooping to hypocrite

    “I think. I’m more secure than you will EVER be.”
    You are delusional of your true risk and afraid of dying because you are always talking about how secure you are and how long you are going to live. You are 75 years old in a 3rd world country with no health insurance. You are facing typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanism. The water is not good in many places there and the food is potentially compromised. Your safety is not what you think either.

  37. Davy on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 4:36 am 

    “BTW: I have not had to have a job for over 10 years. Retired. No taxes. No property to worry about. No licenses needed. No vehicle owned. No government looking over my shoulder when I piss. True freedom. Something you will never have in the Us.”

    Liar, what is it billy 3rd world, a few days ago you were saying how American you were because you had to pay taxes and report to the SS people every two years. You have to renew your passport etc. You are a delusional wacked out old man spreading hate and discontent. There is no reason to polarize this board like you do. We know you have not done anything in 10 years but sit on your ass and whine and point fingers at everyone else in the world. You are so special and smart etc. You make me sick every day I have to listen to you and every chance I get a diss you with reality and neuter you foul comments.

  38. Davy on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 4:37 am 

    “BTW: My business partner”

    Why not admit he is your boyfriend? Are you homophobic?

  39. Davy on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 4:42 am 

    “In its 2018 Asian Development Outlook 2018 released on Wednesday, April 11, ADB projected the Philippine economy to grow by 6.8 percent for this year and 6.9 percent for 2019, slightly higher than its full-year average of 6.7 percent in 2017. …”

    With only a little under double the size you have 16 times the population as my state of Missouri. Your GDP is roughly similar to my little insignificant state. LMFAO. Let’s hope you have high growth and BTW, it won’t last you are already beyond carrying capacity and have some of the most densely populated areas in the world. Forest and fisheries are in decline or localized failure. Land is eroding from poor farming practices. Need I go on?

  40. deadly on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 5:10 am 

    If every New Yorker would die, 112 million trees would be set free, free at last.

    Trees are slaves to humans. Humans breathe the oxygen emitted from trees and don’t pay for it, we need an oxygen tax along with a CO2 tax. A tree tax makes sense, everybody uses wood, the lumber yards would rake in a tree tax like crazy.

    Trees are cut and some of the wood is burned, carbon emissions from trees need to be taxed. Have a tree tax, when you buy your small bundle of firewood at the gas stop, you pay a dollar to pay the tree tax. When you buy a notebook, paper, there will be a tree tax there too.

    Also, the Giant Redwoods in California are too tall, so a clear-cutting of the California Redwoods would be a green project, a desired goal.

    We need to destroy the forests to save the forests. Forest management is sometimes a thankless task, but it can pay and as long as it pays, it will be worth it.

    Too much oxygen in the air there where the redwoods are, has to be. Therefore, the Sequoias in California need to join the ranks of the Cedars of Lebanon.

    A war on trees going on now for ten centuries. It must stop, a truce, a peace.

    Getting to be time for another mass shooting in America.

    The more dead people, the more trees saved.

    One saved tree is a triumph, two hundred million dead people a statistic.

    We have to destroy humanity to save humanity, and the trees.

    It is a travesty of a mockery of a sham.

  41. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 5:27 am 

    Well golly gee, that John Kelley,
    right in that first post, he’s one smart puppy.

    Cause he’s saying the tree didn’t produce
    all that oxygen for YOU. It produced it
    for itself. So oxygen from a tree, isn’t actually
    yours to take.

    Hmmmm now there is a point of view, that if
    you plant EXTRA trees, and then right when
    the tree matures to old age, then you
    harvest all that lumber AND you make sure
    that lumber does NOT get a chance to rot
    (put it into a big building, bury it underground,
    whatever, just dont let it rot)
    at that point I think U would have a net
    win of oxygen, because you’d have all this
    lumber which represents the carbon.

    HOWEVER this requires somebody to plant
    those EXTRA trees, keep them growing and
    then harvest the wood.

    Since everybody in the USA is a dopehead
    on meth, I don’t think there’s a labor
    force available to do all that work.

    So I think we will run out of oxygen.

  42. peakyeast on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 5:42 am 

    What uses more oxygen? Human breathing – or all other consumption of oxygen to keep the human alive?

    The oxygen going into clothing, food, heat, housing, transport and so forth far exceeds the consumption coming from the internal combustion in humans.

  43. Cloggie on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 11:36 am 

    So a human consumes 740 kg oxygen/year, an average tree produces 118 kg/year, that means that 6 trees balance 1 human.

    According to NASA there are 69 trees per human. And then there is all the other vegetation. Interestingly due to increased CO2-production there is an unexpected and unintended consequence: the planet is rapidly greening, again according to NASA:

    A part of the extra CO2 is converted into new vegetation. Who would have thought, although it is admittedly a not a very niche thing to say on a doomer site. Nobody likes party poopers.

  44. MASTERMIND on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 12:13 pm 

    Economic Consequences Of Peak Oil For The Major Multinational Oil And Gas Companies (Amate 2018)

  45. Outcast_Searcher on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 12:54 pm 

    So John Kelly, by your logic, there can’t be any net oxygen, thus there is no animal life.

    Yet, in grade school, kids learn that plants give off net oxygen by breathing, and that animals exhale nitrogen.

    Thus, for hundreds of millions of years, both plants and animals have been able to breathe and reproduce and evolve.

    Dude, get an education. Math, science, and logic would be a good place to start.

  46. Outcast_Searcher on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 12:58 pm 

    It’s not as if forestry isn’t a “thing”. It’s not as if there isn’t a lot of tree planting to replace much of the trees cut for timber.

    Things we can’t replace like FF’s running out, and the AGW burning them produces is a FAR, FAR, bigger problem than running out of trees. Or overpopulation. Or pollution. Or food supplies. Or resource constraints in general.

    Tilting at random low-potential windmills for fun and profit. Sheesh.

  47. Outcast_Searcher on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 1:00 pm 

    When I was a kid in gradeschool, we learned that the atmosphere had almost exactly the same proportion of gases it has today (the 1% miscellaneous gases have likely changes, like more CO2).

    That was about 50 years ago. Let’s focus on problems that are actually impacting us now and in coming decades, shall we?

  48. makati1 on Tue, 17th Apr 2018 8:11 pm 

    Outcast, I would say that lower oxygen levels are more important then anything happening today, short of nuclear war. Since most of the 1st world lives in cities with lower levels, (12% to 17%) we are already in trouble.

    “World’s population increasingly urban with more than half living in urban areas”

    Stupidity is increasing. Take Washington DC as an example. Where do YOU live? LOL

  49. john kelley on Wed, 18th Apr 2018 4:51 pm 

    Outcast, it could be my awkward way of writing that bothers you.By the time a dead tree is reduced to ashes all the oxygen it ever produced is gone.The only way the oxygen can accumulate in the air is if the tree ends up in an oxygen-free environment like submerged under water or buried underground.A forest fire only consumes the amount of oxygen that was produced by the trees it burns.This isn’t tilting at random low-potential windmills it goes to the heart of our understanding the problem. There is no net oxygen in the atmosphere just a vast accumulation of oxygen from things that produced it when they were alive and now find themselves in an oxygen-free situation.If it were possible to uncover and burn the last measure of fossil-fuel it would take the last free oxygen with it.

  50. it'sme on Wed, 18th Apr 2018 8:15 pm 

    water is a “greenhouse gas” you ass fucking morons.

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