If Survival is the Question, Trees are the Answer
Every tree must be considered a vital member of our survival fighting force, because this is a crisis and drastic action is needed.Posted Jul 4, 2013
Trees. They breathe and store carbon dioxide, then give off oxygen, which we breathe.
A vital fact, but that is not all, because as well as supplying our oxygen, and keeping our carbon levels in check, trees also regulate our planet’s water cycle, global temperatures and winds, and the cycles of positive and negative ions that govern our atmosphere, all these attributes crucial to the regulation of Earth’s temperatures, precipitation and winds.
We as a species have reached a crucial turning point in our planet’s crisis of global warming. We have now reached a point where warming could very well be irreversible, each new rise in temperature unleashing new factors in the warming pattern, until the entire planet is uninhabitable. And this could happen with increasing speed as the cycle winds up. Already the extreme weather conditions we have experienced worldwide are increasing: worst storms, hottest temperatures, flooding where it has never happened before. Worldwide, already, people are suffering and dying, and only a global concentrated effort to do something entirely new can bring us the possibility of overcoming the crisis before it overtakes us entirely.
Our planet was once covered with lush vegetation; even the Sahara was once a forest.
Yet today, increasingly huge areas have no trees at all, not only through desertification, but also through urban development, harvesting swathes of timber, and increasingly the fires that accompany the extreme events of global warming. Without these trees, all the functions of carbon storage, temperature regulation, water moderation and atmospheric cleansing are undermined, bringing us to the situation we now find ourselves in.
When a community or country is threatened by overwhelming threats such as war or plague, drastic measures are required of all its citizens to confront and cope with the threat, if survival is to be a possibility. Can we recognize that our planet is in such a situation and muster the will and the power to confront the threat? Certainly we have begun is small ways in various places, with wind and solar power replacing fossil fuels, reuse of resources, control of population growth. But what if we also undertook to restore as much as possible of the mantle of protection provided by trees everywhere, so as to rebuild our defenses on a global scale? What if we managed to muster a global push to reforest the planet?
Without these trees, all the functions of carbon storage, temperature regulation, water moderation and atmospheric cleansing are undermined, bringing us to the situation we now find ourselves in.
Without these trees, all the functions of carbon storage, temperature regulation, water moderation and atmospheric cleansing are undermined, bringing us to the situation we now find ourselves in. We need to guard and treasure our trees as our greatest hope of survival. We need a sense of awe and respect towards what they can do for us, instead of considering them merely a commodity or even a nuisance! Every tree must be considered a vital member of our survival fighting force, because this is a crisis and drastic action is needed.
The first step would be a total, worldwide moratorium on cutting down trees – quite possibly for a full generation at least. This would apply to city neighbourhoods, new areas of development, even existing timber farms. Just as threatened fish stocks have meant the end to the fishing industry in some areas, and the redeployment of those who depended on the industry for their livelihood, so this situation will spell the end to the logging industry Those workers and leaders will need to develop new directions for their work – possibilities which should be plentiful, given the creative challenge posed by such a dramatic change in our lives.
Industries dependent on wood would need to find new ways to replace their original raw material of new timber with existing recyclable materials, bamboo, hemp, or other fast growing and less vital plants. Builders would no longer clearcut lots and put up structures, but would find existing cleared land, old buildings etc. to develop. In built-up areas, rooftop gardens would be utilized where possible, as would all other greening initiatives such as berm housing and the “green walls” we see in place here and there.
At the same time, reforestation would proceed at the fastest possible pace, in every possible area of the globe, by diverting spending to make it the new priority everywhere. It would become a survival priority, and be funded accordingly.
Education would be essential. Every child would be able to recite the benefits of trees like a mantra, would learn to respect and appreciate them as our earth’s guardians. As well, posters, TV and radio, social media all would carry the message to every adult , so that sense of common purpose would come to replace the “me first” attitude engendered by much of our advertising and society today. Because ultimately, “me first” depends upon my surviving, and that is no longer possible for any individual, community or even nation if we don’t act together to address this situation.
These are drastic measures. If we fail, we are indeed doomed, eventually or even soon.
Our children will face worse ravages of storms, floods, fires than we currently do; their children will likely have a harsh cruel life struggling to survive, and their children may have no world left to grow up in at all.
But if we succeed? Then we will have restored this jewel of a planet to beauty and abundance.
But if we succeed? Then we will have restored this jewel of a planet to beauty and abundance. Our temperatures and rainfall will once again be within reasonable limits. We will enjoy the calm of shade on a sunny day, gentle and sweet-smelling breezes, rainfall that nourishes rather than destroys. We will have enabled a future for generations to come, who will pay homage every day of their lives to that generation that saw the need for action and took it on. The time is now; the answer is trees. Can we do it?
Helen McFadden is a senior, and has a six-year-old grandson who is loving, curious, smart and thoughtful. “I want him to grow up with the same love of the natural world and its intricate web of life connections that I did, not in despair and fear for his survival as seems more and more the case these days.”