CLIMATE CATASTROPHE: Beyond Marching—Plant a Tree, by Susu Jeffrey

Trees exchange carbon in the air for oxygen, slurp up storm water, hold soil in place through their root systems, modify wind, proffer shade that reduces hot weather temperatures by about 10-degrees, provide wildlife habitat, and statistically treed neighborhoods have less crime.

By Susu Jeffrey  December 10, 2019

Sometimes you can just plonk a seed or seedling in the ground and let it grow. Johnny Appleseed planted hundreds of apple trees because people drank (alcoholic) applejack to purify the unsafe water.

Humans have had water problems since The Flood. Weather, specifically the behavior of water, is a constant news-maker. Water news is a litany of too much, too little, wrong temperature, a critique of nature’s delivery system of that water, and pollution.

The current atmospheric challenge is to get six trillion trees planted for climate catastrophe mitigation. So far we’ve got millions of people in the streets, either weather refugees or demonstrators. The refugees, like the tides, force our reckoning beyond fences and political speechifying.

Beyond marching, marching, marching like hamsters on a wheel is the actual dig a hole, add water and a tree. Of course, you’ve got to keep marching. I’ve been marching since Vietnam. But planting trees, timed to the proper season, is beyond marching. It renders the marcher credible. More than STOP THAT it’s an eco-example of DO THIS. Consider that planting a tree helps the whole world.

Experts say tree planting is still the single most cost effective way to combat global warming. Mega tree planting is the top solution. At the same time forest clearance, much of it for meat production, causes 80-percent of global deforestation.

“As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting program could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities,” says Damian Carrington, environmental editor at The Guardian.

Climate breakdown impacts all seacoast and river city populations where the majority of humanity lives. Increasingly crowded cities are affected with water level rise, salt water intrusion into farm fields, water treatment facilities and nuclear power plants. Already we’re experiencing mass migration as people move to survive, wars to secure land, crop failures, weather disasters of drought, floods, excessive heat and non-potable water.

Trees exchange carbon in the air for oxygen, slurp up storm water, hold soil in place through their root systems, modify wind, proffer shade that reduces hot weather temperatures by about 10-degrees, provide wildlife habitat, and statistically treed neighborhoods have less crime.

The University of Minnesota tree selection and care Extension Service recommends: black cherry, black walnut, bur oak, chestnut oak, eastern red cedar, hackberry, jack pine, Kentucky coffee tree (native in Minnesota), northern catalpa, northern white cedar, ponderosa pine, Prairie Expedition elm, red maple, river birch, shingle oak, Siouxland poplar, tulip tree, white pine and London plane tree for large trees; or smaller trees: Black Hills spruce, blue beech, chestnut crabapple, ironwood, pagoda dogwood, serviceberry, amur maackia and Katsura tree. Betcha can find one you like.

Besides we want to have a nice place to welcome the million climate refugees just to Minnesota.

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“Climate change is seen as such an immense and complicated issue—it feels like it’s seen as someone else’s problem, someone else is dealing with it or not dealing with it, and no one has a simple message for how to go about tackling it,” says Tom Crowther, climate change ecologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH in Zurich.

“I’d like to try and champion this [tree planting] as a solution that everyone can get involved in. If all the millions of people who went on climate marches got involved in tree planting the impact would be huge.”

Years ago I joined a redwood planting camp in northern California. It was over New Years, to coordinate with the rainy season. We paid a modest fee to stay in cabins and set out in boots and waterproofs with tools to place long rooted, short topped baby redwoods near a stream on public land.

Closer to home I planted a Kentucky coffee tree seed in my yard. The seed, really a small hard nut, must be either boiled for 45 minutes or filed so the embryo can be “born.” I remember being on my knees, cheering, to see a quarter-inch sprout backing out of the earth. Wow, I midwifed this tree!

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“Consider that planting a tree helps the whole world.”

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