Let’s Talk About Trees. #challengeyoplanet

When was the last time you talked about trees?

#Challengeyoplanet is a series of informative posts on climate change that aim to raise awareness among young people. Read more about the project and the other posts here. 
Yesterday we talked about the reason why we should probably start listening to the whole climate change discussion and demand change from higher powers. It’s ok, don’t put that V for Vendetta, just yet.
But today I want you to get angry. I want you to read this article and filled with so much anger and frustration, that you will get up and tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat the hell out of your feelings and create something incredible: change.
When was the last time you really thought about trees?
We never really think about trees because they just there, you know, they are not really doing anything groundbreaking to look at. They grow at an invisible pace, they look astonishing during autumn and spring and they look hungry when it’s winter. But other than that, we don’t really think about them because they just blend in with our surroundings.
Exactly. We are so used to the idea of being surrounded by trees that we just completely forgot of their existence. It’s like when you hang out with your friends so much that you sort of forget what life is like without them.
But here’s an inconvenient truth about trees: they are essential for our survivals. They are like oxygen tanks that are available for us all over Earth’s surface. So generous of them to do that right?
So it’s pretty obvious – especially from yesterday’s talk – that if climate change impacts our environment, it can only and inevitably affect our land, aka our trees.

Why do we care? 

 
If yesterday’s post wasn’t convincing you enough to start caring about the future of our planet, then this is for you. Every single aspect that goes to be impacted by climate change is important, don’t get me wrong.
But talking about our forests and the trees that are burned and chopped off so we can produce more crap that we are going to throw away when it’s not “cool” anymore; is more than important. It’s cool shit.
So here is why you start caring about trees. You will want throw yourself at a tree after reading this.

Why do we cut trees?

It’s not big news. We cut trees. A lot of them. And we have been doing it for thousands of years.
We cut them to make more space for our lands and our big factories, but we mainly cut them to make space to put livestock on.
The thing is that the places with the most amount of trees can be found in countries with little livestock consumption; and you’re going to ask. How did we arrive to the point that tropical forests in developing countries are literally disappearing under our eyes, if the local population are barely consuming anything?
Economic globalisation, darling. Yes, that bitch again.
Not that much of a bitch since we can find the same products and services all over the world and it allows certain small markets to compete against big fishes of the economic sea; however, we can’t deny that previous generations went a little bit overboard with globalisation and now we are screwed.
In fact, when the big companies realised how cheap and convenient it was to outsource everything, in particular lands for livestock and production plants, they threw themselves (or at least their money) and started moving everything to these developing countries. Smart move or a recipe for disaster?

These are the many problems that trees face today.

  • Deforestation due to road building. We build roads to make  transport accessible to people in remote areas; but that is often followed by even further logging, because once the road is built, farmers and rural populations will follow the new road stabilising new lands and cropping even more trees. Urbanisation – people moving to the city – is definitely a factor in this.

 

  • Deforestation due to large scale commercial activities. Soy beans and livestock in the Amazon, palm tree plantations in Indonesia and Borneo. The constant and greedy need of consumption from developed countries has driven a mad game of making as much space available at all time to match the supply to an incessant demand. How about we stop demanding so much and go for local? Nah, I’d like to keep paying 50% less of its actual price and give money to logging trees, since I live far away and what you can’t see, can’t hurt right? Nope, let’s stop being ridiculous.

 

  • Deforestation due to livestock. I know you like your meat and I know you like it cheap. But because everybody likes to eat their meat (and their dairy) cheap, something needed to happen. Farmers had to find a way to make more space. And it’s not the happy farmer who caresses his cows before slaughtering them, nor it’s your old grandpa who was like a psychic with his chickens’ eggs. No, it’s big companies who have driven a huge consumption of animal products through advertising, lobbies and elbowing big guys in higher powers, so that we all started craving meat like a big group of zombies and we have to keep clearing space for our fat animals to pump stuff for us. Sustainable? Certainly not.

Countries with the highest level of meat and dairy consumption are the countries with little space for their livestock that they would need to slaughter, so what happens? They go overseas.

They chop off some trees, clear the space et voila, here’s your cheap steak right there. Who cares about the local farming industry that is forced to give up their land, or adapt to unethical working and agricultural standards. You want that juicy cheap steak right?


HOW DOES THIS IMPACT CLIMATE CHANGE

It’s hard to believe that cutting trees might be a problem here, but deforestation – so cutting, burning and clearing trees – is responsible of 10 to 20% of carbon emissions. Not bad for a tree, uh?

 

When trees are cleared for crops and lands, they are filled with carbon emissions; and depending on how the farmers manage those tree-less lands, they can turn into highly inflammable materials, which lead to wildfires, which lead to further deforestation. And then we’re all screwed.

The carbon emitted just from clearing Latin American forests roughly equals the emissions of 125 million Americans.

The main problem with deforestation is that by chopping trees off here and there, we also destroy the homes of millions of species, whose 70%  between plants and animals live in forests, putting in danger a huge food chain that it definitely affects us.

And the big nasty surprise we will get from deforestation will be a great loss of canopy. Canopy is the upper layer of a forest and it acts like a green umbrella against the sun rays during the day and holds the heat during the night. The more we cut, the less canopy we have and the whole balance of temperature between soil and lands goes out of the window.

Not to mention the biggest function of all trees, which is to absorb all the greenhouse gases that we keep producing. Not bad, uh?

So what’s the problem, what the heck do we do?

Well, the solution is actually pretty straight forward.

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Here, that easy. Stop cutting trees. 

Or at least stop supporting companies that base their businesses around cutting trees. Stop wasting so much paper. 

Be interested in the way that foreign countries deal with deforestation, as a demand for transparency and democracy is fundamental in changing environmental practices overseas. 

Be interested in the way your local government deal with forestation in your own countries and where it stands in environmental policies overseas.

If we don’t start caring about our trees, it simply means that we don’t care about breathing. So take a deep breath, hug a tree and fight for a tree.

LEARN MORE

LET’S TALK ABOUT TREES

LET’S TALK ABOUT EATING ANIMALS

LET’S TALK ABOUT FASHION

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE OCEAN



 

KEEPING UP WITH THE #COP21 -1st December

 

  • Today the #COP21 was all about forests. Global leaders met up and discussed on possible ways to stop deforestation on a global scale. They just talked about doing it, but not really discussed what they were going to do. Typical, uh?

 

  • A study published byOxFam just revealed that the richest 1% are responsible for half of the carbon emissions of the planet; while the other poorest half produces 10%. Talking about fairness. Didn’t need a study to confirm. Just go to the mall on a Sunday afternoon.

 

  • This year is the year we want to destroy carbon, we want to take it down à la Mean Girls. But banks are not really on the same page, since they have provided two and a half more funds to coal power alone than renewables. And it’s not a small number; we are talking about $257 bilion dollars against $108 bn in renewables. Some banks promised to end their funding in countries with high income, which are only 12% of the market, so good save there.

 

  • A group of Indonesians walked the talk that politicians have been promising, by ensuring to rebuild and intervene after the horrific wildfires that affected Indonesia. They took the matter personally and grouping together and frustrated to wait so long for some kind of intervention from the government, they built a dam to drain peat lands for plantation. Can the leaders in Paris take notes on how to get shit done?

 


 

SOURCES.

National Geographic

Earth Observatory

 

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