College of Social Sciences, University of Hawaii at MānoaCollege Logo

Geography Professor Leads the Carbon Neutrality Challenge


More CSS News

“Ongoing climate change is the biggest documented environmental threat of our generation. For nearly 20 years now, my students and I have been studying the impacts of climate change in nature. Although scientists have amassed significant data regarding global warming, climate change continues its pace. Last year we crossed the threshold of 400ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is a milestone in the last 3.5 million years, and we humans did it,” said Associate Professor Camilo Mora.

In response, Mora and his team created The Carbon Neutrality Challenge. The initiative is based on a simple concept: If individuals calculate how much carbon dioxide they produce, and plant the trees necessary to offset those emissions, they will become carbon neutral.

“Even under the best case scenarios, we can only expect that government interventions will have noticeable effects some time by the middle of this century. By that time, it will be too late for many species and even entire communities around the world. These scenarios led to the development of the carbon neutrality challenge. The idea is that we do not wait for governments to fix climate change, but we fix it ourselves,” added Mora.

Mora’s group is now partnering with Myles Ritchie of the Outdoor Circle to bring this project to elementary schools on Oʻahu. Participating students learn about climate change, how trees help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and plant trees as part of their carbon neutrality effort. To help ensure the survival of newly planted trees, students also construct a wireless network of “smart watering system” sensors that allow them to use mobile phones to check the moisture levels in the soil surrounding their plants.

“Just think about the possibilities, if all of us in Hawaiʻi choose to plant and care for just one tree, we could plant a million trees in no time,” said Mora.

For more information, visit the The Carbon Neutrality Challenge.

Camilo Mora - Associate Professor, Geography
Camilo Mora Associate Professor, Geography