Feb 1, 2018
by Tish Levee
In line with this month’s theme, let’s talk about deforestation and how planting trees can reduce global warming and air pollution, while supplying habitat for living beings. Eighty percent of earth’s plants and animals live in forests, many of them threatened with extinction.
Many climate scientists and writers have replaced the term “global warming” with “climate change,” just because of this perception that record cold weather means the planet can’t be getting warmer. The numbers say differently; 2017 was the 3rd warmest year on record. The last five years have been the five warmest ones since 1880, when we started keeping records. As the planet warms, so do the oceans, air currents shift, and we see more and more exteme weather—heat waves, droughts, flooding, record-breaking cold, and etc. So, yes there is definitely global warming, and it’s getting worse.
Trees can help reduce global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. They then store the carbon while emitting oxygen. So trees act as “carbon sinks,” drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequestering it.
Nearly 60,000 trees are lost daily, a loss responsible for 6-12% of all carbon dioxide emissions. While we often think of Indonesia and the Amazon in regards to deforestation, Canada and the US were 3rd and 4th in the loss of trees in 2009.
There’re many natural causes of deforestation, including droughts, insect infestations that kill trees, floods, climate change, and forest fires, as we are all too aware. But, there’re many not-so-natural causes, too. Large swaths of forest have been clear-cut and replaced with agriculture, grazing land for cattle, and plantations of palm oil trees, as well as for paper products.
The Good News—Reforestation. Every year Americans plant 1.6 billion trees, close to six trees for every one we use. Half of them are planted by lumber companies and cut down later. There are a number of programs for planting trees—google “tree planting organizations.” You can also look for local programs such as The Trees Project, founded in Middletown after the Lake County fires and Forest Unlimited here in Sonoma County. Also see the NovemberGazette’sarticle about gathering acorns to replant oak trees http://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/help-restore-oaks-after-the-october-fires.
© Tish Levee, 2018
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