In the aftermath of a shaky few days for Californians, thanks to huge earthquake events in the state’s mid-section, let’s spend some quality time discussing nature.
First, Mother Nature has a capricious side, one that doesn’t pay much homage to the human race. Climate change is making the capriciousness even more vexing, and no one knows for sure what the eventual outcome will be.
Global warming was the phrase once preferred by scientists, but because blizzards and extra-icy winters turned “global warming” into a meme, we’ve moved along to the catchall phrase “climate change.”
A team of Swiss scientists has floated a theory that planting trees is the most effective way to combat the global-warming part of climate change.
Trees are one of Mother Nature’s best filters. Trees could suck up a lot of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere.
In fact, the science team reckons that planting enough new trees could do the trick, draining off more than 830 billion tons of carbon dioxide over a few decades. That’s about as much carbon pollution as humans have spewed into the air over the past quarter-century.
Here’s the catch — we would need to plant a trillion or more trees to get the job done. For perspective, a healthy acre of forest has 40 to 60 trees. You can do the math.
Most big-rig trucks travel the interstate highways in California because it saves drivers time and hassle. Most, but not all.
But the Swiss team thinks it’s doable. Even with existing cities and farmland, there’s still plenty of space for new trees to cover about 3.5 million square miles, or roughly an area the size of the United States. Plus, who doesn’t like trees?
As it turns out, a lot of folks see a problem with planting a trillion or more new trees, among them forestry officials, who point out that the planet’s forests are already overstocked, with from 100 to 200 trees per acre, compared to the 40-60 acres required for a healthy forest. Earth now hosts about 3 trillion trees.
Another potential snag is that six countries have, by far, the most acreage to accommodate new trees — Russia, the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China, and a couple of those players can’t seem to agree on anything.
In the end, however, most scientists agree that planting trees is not the answer, which brings up the need to reduce our thirst for fossil fuels.
On a related topic, here is a pop quiz — what is the most valuable species on Earth? In this case, value is determined by what that species contributes to the planet’s overall health. If you guessed humans, you don’t even get a booby prize.
According to the most recent environmental gathering of the Royal Geographical Society of London, the most important species to Earth’s survival and overall health is the bee.
Bees are responsible for pollinating plants, without which life on Earth would be virtually, if not literally impossible. Bees are the only insect that provides food for humans.
In the process of interaction between living beings and the planet, bees have a crucial function because the world’s agriculture depends on the work bees do. Nearly three-quarters of every 100 products humans use for food depend entirely on a healthy, busy bee population. Without pollination, plants could not reproduce. Without plants, the fauna would disappear, and not long after that, humans would be gone.
We bring up these science matters because big earthquakes tend to heighten our interest in the natural world, and how quickly everything can change — and because we too often take for granted beautiful things like trees and bees.