This post was in part inspired by @pennsif who is commiting to growing 90,000 trees on top of the 10,000 he has already planted on his land. He will give the new ones away to those who can plant them.
A great tree we saw in Sorrento last year.
I have also been reading a few stories about trees lately that largely reflect human impact and what we can do about it. These will be mostly from The Guardian which has very good environmental coverage.
There has been a study into the benefits of planting billions of trees around the world. Human 'civilisation' has halved the number of trees in the world and the current rate of loss is frightening. Replacing some of those trees could have a big impact on counteracting some human CO2 emissions in the sort term. Trees grow by sucking that gas out of the air and turning it into wood. Of course that can get released again if the tree is burnt or decomposes, but they could be locking it up for decades or even centuries whilst we find other ways to deal with the problem. There are a few reader responses to the story above pointing out issues, but I would think in general there are few negative consequences to having more trees.
Meanwhile in Brazil the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is ramping up under a president who has strong ties with the agriculture industry. Hundreds of square kilometres are being lost every month for logging and farming. Much of this is illegal, but perpetrators are not be prosecuted. I appreciate that economies need resources, but this sort of short-term thinking has serious consequences. Those forests could take centuries to grow back and the damage to habitats and lost species is incalculable. I should say that the UK has its own history of forest destruction. Centuries ago much of the country was covered in trees that were cut down for agriculture and a lot were used in ship construction and other industries. There are efforts to rebuild some forests, including this one near me.
Just today I read how toilet paper is becoming less sustainable. Manufacturers are actually reducing the amount of recycled wood pulp they use. We really should not be cutting down trees to produce a produce which is literally used for seconds and thrown away, but it seems people want 'luxury' products. It seems the UK has some of the highest consumption of toilet paper behind the US and Germany at 127 rolls per year. That seems a lot. I would estimate I can make a roll last a couple of weeks as it is often possible to get by with one or two sheets per visit. Wipe, fold and wipe again! Changing habits makes a difference.
Another good news source is New Internationalist. They have stories like this one about forests being cut down for palm oil cultivation. That and cattle ranching are major factors. It has been said many times, but reducing meat consumption can have a major impact on reducing our CO2 output. As well as the forest clearance the vast number of cattle produce a lot of methane that contributes to climate change.
The battle against climate change is fought on many fronts. We have to drastically reduce use of fossil fuels. Of course those industries rely on exploiting all possible resources. They knew about the effects decades ago, but have suppressed the research and worked to spread mis-information about it so they could justify continuing. They spend millions lobbying politicians to limit restrictions on what they do. They may publicise their greener projects, but this has little impact on their continued damaging activities. It has been called 'greenwashing'.
Maybe we are getting to them when the head of OPEC is worried. These industries are run by people whose own children are questioning what they do. Lots of organisations are choosing to move their investments out of fossil fuels celebrities are taking a stand. Some will critisise the celebrities as just seeking their own publicity, but if it keeps the issues in the news then it is a good thing. The phrase virtue signalling has come to be thrown about a lot, but people do really care about issues. None of us is perfect, but we should be worried can make a difference with even small changes to our lifestyles. Those of us in wealthy countries can easily manage with less.
Here's a couple of appropriate songs to listen to whilst you read.
The geeky guitarist and facilitator of the 10K Minnows Project.