“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope.” –Wangari Maathai
Earth Day 2016 was all about trees. With a theme of “Trees for Life: Let’s Get Planting”, the goal was to plant 7.8 billion trees, one for every person, by this year’s 50th Earth Day. People around the world have been hard at work doing just that. Ethiopia holds the record by planting over 353 million trees in just 12 hours this past July.
Trees are vital to the health of the planet. Trees clean our air and produce oxygen. Among other pollutants, they absorb carbon dioxide which is a contributor to the greenhouse effect. Deforestation across the globe has contributed to rising temperatures. Rising temperatures have contributed to increased wildfires. Wildfires increase carbon emissions by releasing the carbon stored in trees and soil. Fires are not the only thing contributing to the Earth’s diminishing tree cover to be sure, but there is a vicious cycle involved here. Fewer trees have led to higher temperatures, which have led to even fewer trees.
There are lots of actions that should be taken to combat climate change. Planting trees can part of the solution. In addition to planting a tree yourself, there are many ways to be a part the tree planting effort. At the Arbor Day Foundation, you can take a quiz to see how many trees to plant to offset your carbon footprint. (We’ll talk more about carbon footprints tomorrow.) Some other tree planting organizations are: 8 Billion Trees, One Tree Planted, The National Forest Foundation, Trees for the Future, and the Green Belt Movement, just to name a few. The Green Belt Movement is an interesting one. The indigenous, grassroots organization was founded in Nairobi in 1977 by Wangari Maathai. She was the first women to earn a PhD in Eastern Africa and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work with the Green Belt Movement.