1.9 billion people use YouTube every month.
That’s one in four people on the planet.
Which is why the latest high-profile fundraising stunt by user MrBeast—real name Jimmy Donaldson, who projects out to 25.2 million subscribers—may have a serious impact on the biggest challenge facing the entire planet: the climate crisis.
MrBeast has just kicked off a campaign to raise $20 million by the end of the year. Every single one of those dollars will be used to plant a tree, meaning the goal is to seek enough donations in two months to plant 20 million trees.
The enormous initiative is supported by more than 600 YouTubers, including Ninja, Simone Giertz, Smarter Every Day, and the Slow Mo Guys. Collectively, the group has over 150 million subscribers. They hope that the combined weight of their viewer count can essentially ‘game’ YouTube’s algorithm, ensuring that the homepage, trending pages and recommended videos are flooded with content about planting trees and fighting climate change.
The idea, five months in the making—ever since MrBeast was urged by an avalanche of social media users to plant 20 million trees to celebrate reaching 20 million subscribers—sees YouTubers post tree-related videos with the hashtag #TeamTrees. So far, these have included music made on trees, clips of tree planting sessions and explainers of drone technology used to plant seeds.
Viewers are encouraged to make donations through the platform, with YouTube promising to cover the transaction costs for any money donated.
5M trees in the first 48hrs!! ??. Think of 1 football field full of trees. Now multiply that by 100,000! That’s what we’ve done together so far. Two months to go!! #TeamTrees pic.twitter.com/lS4lBvhlSd
— Mark Rober (@MarkRober) October 27, 2019
The idea is that YouTube’s social weight—and incredible reach across society—could force real change on a personal and political level.
The Verge, in its story on the initiative, quotes from a private video by YouTuber Mark Rober, who said that the collective knows that 20 million trees isn’t going to “cure” climate change. “But the point here is to end the decade on a super strong note.
“It’s a constructive way to send a message to politicians that it’s freaking time to do something about climate change.”
Donations are given directly to the Arbor Day Foundation, an NGO with 47 years of experience in planting trees and repopulating forests around the world. The aim is to start planting the trees in January 2020—all of which will be native species to the regions in the US and internationally in which they’re planted—and to have all 20 million trees planted by December 2022.
Over $4 million has been raised so far through three days of activity. There are still two months (64 days) left to complete the fundraiser.