Plant a Tree – Save the Planet

Trees can be a lovely accent to any landscape. Most adults have happy childhood memories that involve trees whether it was climbing one, a tree house, raking leaves or jumping into a pile of bright fall leaves, playing beneath the branches of a tree, or even a Christmas tree. Trees are much more than decoration. Trees clean the air and cool our living spaces. They are one of the most vital living organisms on the planet and by planting more trees, humankind may just save the planet.

In these early years of the 21st century, it’s no secret that our planet is in trouble. Science professionals agree that global warming proves a real threat to Earth with warmer temperatures, wilder and much more severe weather patterns, and changes to the environment. Greenhouse gases are a major contributing factor to global warming. Over the past century as more areas of forest have been razed to make way for urban expansion, numbers of trees have diminished while the number of carbon dioxide emitting vehicles has increased. Where forests once cooled the earth, super highways with pavement now raise temperatures. Researchers in California have determined that average urban temperatures can be as much as five to nine degrees higher than surrounding suburbs. Average temperatures in heavily forested areas can be even lower than urban temperatures.

An average tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide each year and an acre of trees can take in a cumulative 26 tons of carbon dioxide, enough to counter effect a car driving 26,000 miles. Trees can indeed make a difference in emissions and may be able to slow the rapid global warming that affects the world today to the point that artic glaciers are beginning nto melt.

The same trees that can reduce average temperatures can also cool homes. Choose a home setting with tall, old trees for a cooler living space and plant trees if none are present. Although trees can take years to mature and reach full height, planting trees is an investment that will simply grow with time. Cooler homes can require less energy used to power air conditioning systems and save energy as well as money for the homeowner. Well placed trees around a home can cut summer air conditioning bills by up to 15%.

Another way that trees help the environment is to less the noise load that Americans are subjected to each day. A belt of trees around a major highway or industrial air serves to reduce noise. Homes surrounded by trees are less plagued by noise than those without trees.

Soil erosion is another ongoing problem in the modern world. Wind is a powerful force and often erodes the top layer of soil. Soil erosion can destroy fertile farmlands and cut into hillsides which then allows water to drain downhill. This effect often causes dangerous flooding conditions for major roadways and homeowners. By planting trees in areas prone to erosion, the wind cannot as easily lift the soil. Rain is allowed to better seep into the ground where it is needed when trees are in the vicinity.

When new development projects threaten trees consider forming a citzens coalition to block development or to urge developers to leave trees in place.

At Christmas, opt for a living tree that can later be planted for a truly “green” Christmas. Or, be sure that the Christmas tree is put to good ecological use after the holiday season. Most live Christmas trees end up in landfills but there are better ways to dispose of an evergreen. The branches, cut into smaller lengths, can serve as winter protection for flower beds for roses, azaelas, or camellias. Pine and fir needles are excellent soil conditioners and can be scattered to benefit soil in garden or lawn areas. A tree trunk run through a chipper can produce mulch as well. Consumers who don’t want to use the former Christmas tree in a green manner may want to donate the tree to a nursery or outlet where the tree can be turned into wood chips for garden use.

Trees are one of the ways that anyone can take a stand in the fight against global warming and help our planet survive for another millenium.

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