By Morgan Sung
With a combined 650 million subscribers — nearly double the population of the United States — a coalition of YouTubers wants to tackle the climate crisis by raising $20 million to plant 20 million trees.
Known for his elaborate stunts — like going through the same drive-through 1000 times and donating $40,000 to a Twitch streamer, YouTuber Mr. Beast is leading the campaign in celebration of gaining 20 million subscribers. In May, his followers spammed him with requests to plant 20 million trees to celebrate his subscriber count.
“Today, we will be planting 20 million trees,” Mr. Beast said in a video posted Friday. With the help of volunteers, they managed to plant 1,700.
Instead of singlehandedly saving the planet, Mr. Beast put out a call to subscribers: Every dollar donated to the Arbor Day Foundation accounts for one tree planting.
He also partnered with Mark Rober, Rhett & Link, Marshmello, AsapScience, Jeffree Star, Simone Giertz, The Try Guys, and others to call upon their subscribers to do the same. Under the hashtag #TeamTrees, the YouTubers will post videos on Friday asking their audience to donate in an effort to better the planet.
The Verge reports that YouTube will cover all transaction fees for donations. By flooding the platform with tree content, the coalition hopes to play the algorithm into pushing environmental videos to the top of trending pages and recommended playlists.
The Arbor Day Foundation is currently in the middle of its own tree-planting mission to get 100 million saplings in the ground by 2020, but planting for #TeamTrees will start in January 2020. The project is ambitious, with hopes to make it to the goal by December 2022. Most of the trees planted will be native to a variety of state and national forests managed by government agencies.
Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer turned YouTuber, told fellow creators in an unlisted video that planting 20 million trees won’t “cure climate change” but it’s worth it in terms of raising awareness.
“The point here is to end the decade on a super strong note. It’s a constructive way to send a message to the politicians that it’s freaking time to do something about climate change,” he said. “Plus, we just really love trees, so this is like a fist bump to Mother Earth.”