President Joe Biden announced weeks ago that Vice President Kamala Harris would oversee the chaotic surge of thousands of migrants into the United States, but she has yet to tour the U.S. border with Mexico.
The White House announced Harris will hold a virtual meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on May 7 to discuss “migration” but that will not be the main focus of the discussion, according to the Daily Mail:
Mexico’s top diplomat revealed the news and said the video meeting will focus on Mexico’s questioned tree-planting program.
López Obrador is trying to get the United States to help fund a massive expansion of the program into Central America as a way to stem migration.
It comes amid a dramatic surge in illegal crossings at the border, with more than 172,000 encounters in March alone, including a historic number of unaccompanied children. Harris’ office said in a statement that the meeting will focus on ‘the common goals of prosperity, good governance and addressing the root causes of migration.’ It did not mention the tree-planting initiative.
López Obrador spoke about his ‘Planting Life’ program at the virtual climate change summit Biden staged last week. The idea is to pay farmers to plant 1 billion fruit and timber trees in Mexico. The program has been extended to El Salvador, and López Obrador wants U.S. funding to further extend it to Honduras and Guatemala.
López Obrador believes the program prevents farmers from abandoning their land to come to the United States. He also proposed the U.S. give migrants six-month work visas that lead to citizenship.
“But environmentalists question whether planting big swaths of commercial species – sometimes on land that held native forests – is a good idea,” the Mail reported. “Opinions are mixed in Mexico on whether the program is really working and whether it can offset Mexico’s other policy of encouraging the use of fossil fuels.”
Mexico has planted 700,000 trees and is paying Mexican farmers $225 a month to take care of the saplings.
López Obrador said trees capture carbon, which could help fight so-called climate change.
In fact, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), plants definitely help cool the planet:
A new study published in the journal Science Advances titled “Biophysical impacts of Earth greening largely controlled by aerodynamic resistance” reports that the entire land surface would have been much warmer without the cooling effect of increased green cover during the recent decades. The study used high-quality satellite data from NASA’s MODIS sensors and NCAR’s state-of-the-art numerical earth system model.
The greening of the lands during the first fifteen years in the 21st century represented an additional heat dissipation (2.97×1021 J) from the surface equivalent to five times the total energy produced and used by humans in 2015 (5.71×1020 J). This greening-induced cooling effect was twenty-five times stronger than the warming effect caused by tropical deforestation.
“In the fight against climate change, plants are the lonely-only defenders. Stopping deforestation and ecologically sensible large-scale tree-planting could be one simple, but not sufficient, defense against climate change.” said the lead author Dr. Chi Chen a former Ph.D. student at Boston University, now a postdoc researcher at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
Harris said recently that she is going to ask federal agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, to look into the “root causes” of why people want to come to the United States.
“This week I’m bringing together foundation leaders from across our country to really encourage them to do more in terms of the civil society piece of this, which will be about both growing the work that they’ve already done historically, but also engaging civil society in the region in the Northern Triangle” Harris said.
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