Stan Eastberg was president of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 in 1992/93. To each new member in our Rotary club he presented a young fir tree for them to plant. When I was president in 1996/97 I gave each new member a hug. If Stan and I had combined our efforts all future Rotary members might have been tree huggers. Perhaps we could have saved the world from climate change.
Seth Borenstein from The Associated Press in his article, “Best way to fight climate change? Plant a trillion trees,” points out that a new study says the most effective way to fight global warming is to plant trees. – apnews.com/8ac33686b64a4fbc991997a72683b1c5
“Every walk in the forest is like taking a shower in oxygen.” – Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World
Humans have been denuding our world of trees since the dawn of civilization. In the Old Testament there are references to the Cedars of Lebanon. Would you like to guess how many cedar trees there are in Lebanon now? Twenty-five acres. The Cedars of God, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located at Bsharri in Lebanon. It is the last refuge of what were once extensive forests in ancient times. The Cedars of Lebanon were used for temples and ships and finally as railroad ties. That’s the old world. Here in the new world, America, we have the Cedars of Lebanon State Park located in Wilson County, Tennessee. The state park has 900 acres of cedars located within the 9,420-acre Cedars of Lebanon State Forest.
Here in Pierce County we can do our bit as well. By planting trees, perhaps a trillion or more (not all here in Washington, perhaps), we can fight climate change or at least slow it down. The study says, “Even with existing cities and farmland, there’s enough space for new trees to cover 3.5 million square miles (9 million square kilometers), they reported in Thursday’s journal Science. That area is roughly the size of the United States. The study calculated that over the decades, those new trees could suck up nearly 830 billion tons (750 billion metric tons) of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That’s about as much carbon pollution as humans have spewed in the past 25 years.” – sciencemag.org/news/2019/07/adding-1-billion-hectares-forest-could-help-check-global-warming
The United States isn’t the only country that could help with space for trees. Five other country targets for new tree planting are Russia, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China. Also, new trees would not have to be in existing forests. Although it would take quite a while to grow a large stand of indigenous Garry oaks in Lakewood, there are other trees that could do well. Trees don’t have to be tall firs and pines, either. The benefits of new trees wouldn’t be instant, but they wouldn’t take years and years, either.
The benefits do start early, however. Young trees remove more carbon from the air than older ones. Homeowners and municipalities can help. One of my favorite streets in Tacoma is North Union. First it passes the University of Puget Sound, which has many beautiful trees on the campus (as does Pacific Lutheran University), and from Baker Stadium all the way to North 30th, there is a center strip dividing the road with lawn and wonderful shade trees. This same planning could be done for new developments, both public and private.
The study says, “Global temperatures could rise 1.5° C above industrial levels by as early as 2030 if current trends continue, but trees could help stem this climate crisis.”
Although my wife Peg and I haven’t planted any new trees lately, we have acted to preserve our existing trees. Our favorite is a beautiful madrona, which brings us almost as much pleasure as it gives our neighborhood deer population.
Stan Eastberg and I have no plans to run for Rotary president, again, but we can still encourage others to reduce emissions and stop pollution. A billion additional hectares of trees and forests could reduce that damage already done by the roughly 300 gigatons of carbon we’ve added to the air since the 1800s. We don’t need to re-invent the wheel here or come up with some new fantastic new gene. We just need to multiply what it already being done. Last year, youth contributed almost 18,000 hours of volunteer service for the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and Washington. The students learned about the environment and planted fir trees.
There are several in-place options available if you would like to help:
- Find more information about the Oregon and Washington “Reforestation and Forest Development Program” – blm.gov/or/programs/forests/reforestation.htm
- Tacoma Urban Forestry is excited to offer free street trees to qualified Tacoma residents to plant in their right-of-ways this fall. Applications are now available. This program is limited by available resources; preference will be given to applications from historically underserved neighborhoods, neighborhood planting groups, and those who plant large shade trees (where appropriate). – cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/environmentalservices/urban_forestry_-_evergreen_tacoma/grit_city_trees
- In Pierce County there is an Urban Tree Sale, which helps residents across Pierce County receive significantly discounted trees and provides the resources necessary to properly plant them around their homes. – piercecd.org/409/Urban-Tree-Sale
- Participants Receive:
- Up to three landscape size trees for 50-85% off retail. They offer a variety of small, medium, and large trees appropriate under power lines, along the street, or in the yard.
- A free watering bag with each tree purchased ($15 value each).
- Expert training on proper tree placement, planting and care.
- Ongoing care reminders and access to future workshop opportunities.
- Participants Receive:
- Seattle has a Trees for Neighborhoods program. Since 2009, Trees for Neighborhoods has helped Seattle residents plant over 9,300 trees in their yards and along the street. – seattle.gov/trees/treesforneighborhoods.htm
Joyce Kilmer said, “Only God can make a tree,” but humans and our children could certainly plant them.