Felix Finkbeiner is on a mission. Ten years ago, when he was just nine years old, he decided to fight climate change by planting one million trees. At the time he felt like adults just talk about the issues facing our planet without taking much action. With his initiative Plant for the Planet, the ambitious teenager surpassed his original goal together with the United Nations’ (UN) Billion Tree Campaign, planting over 14 billion trees in over 130 countries. And he is just getting started.
While working on a fourth grade school assignment, Felix researched how climate change threatened polar bears, his favorite animal. Then, browsing Google, he stumbled across stories about the Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai, who over 30 years planted 30 million trees in Africa and won the Nobel Prize in 2004. Felix wrote a report about trees, ending his paper with the goal to plant one million of them in his home country of Germany. He planted the first tree near his school’s entrance.
From there evolved a movement. Media attention over his plant-a-million-trees goal helped spread the word, and then Finkbeiner spoke to the UN and to the European Parliament. All the while he was planting trees, and his goals kept getting bigger.
The millionth tree in Germany was planted when Felix was 13, and his initiative was up and running with a website and a full-time employee. Plant for the Planet even received stewardship of the Billion Tree campaign. Today they’ve planted more than 14 billion trees, and aim for one trillion trees, or around 150 trees for every human on the planet. Felix has been joined by over 50,000 Ambassadors for Climate Justice, most between the ages of nine and 12.
Speaking last year at an Urban Future conference, Felix said, “If we follow the scientists and we act and in 20 years find out that they were wrong, we didn’t do any mistakes. But if we follow the skeptics and in 20 years find out that they were wrong, it will be too late to save our future.”
You can find out more, get involved, or donate on the Plant for the Planet website here.