Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t heard trees mentioned in a long long time anywhere in the press. That, folks is just plain unfortunate. While we are busy chasing after carbon sequestration technologies, trying to build artificial trees even, right there, next to us is the simplest, cheapest, and most effective solution. Trees are amazing CO2 eating factories. And while initiatives such as the United Nations Environment Program ‘Let’s plant one billion more trees in 2008‘ are commendable, in my opinion, they are not enough, and have not made it down to the mainstream public.
I started thinking what would happen if there were no longer trees? What would the world be like? I imagined it to look like this:
A nightmarish universe, populated with rows and rows of manufactured things, and no sign of nature to be seen. Aseptic, lifeless, colorless, with the smell of death lurking. This could become our world, if we are not careful. According to popular lore, Thom Yorke recorded the vocals for ‘Fake Plastic Trees‘ in two takes, and broke down in tears after doing so.
Just as I was about to give hope, Prad drops this morning’s paper at my side, with, what do you know?, an article on ‘PG&E picks forests for green funds‘ . . .
San Francisco’s PG&E will use cash from its ClimateSmart program to fund the restoration and management of two California forests, one in Santa Cruz County, the other on the state’s North Coast. The trees – mostly coastal redwoods – will soak up carbon dioxide from the air, offsetting some of the gases produced by the power plants that provide PG&E customers with electricity.
The amount of money changing hands is small by the standards of the utility industry – only about $2 million. That cash, however, should help remove 214,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases from the air. That’s roughly equivalent to taking almost 40,000 cars off the road for a year.
It also means that the 17,500 PG&E customers who have signed up for the ClimateSmart program will have offset all the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the electricity and natural gas they consume. Participating customers pay an average of $5 per month over and above their regular bill. They receive nothing in return, except the satisfaction of helping the environment.
Still, not quite what I had in mind. Trees need a PR makeover, with Hollywood celebrities stepping in and speaking on their behalf. Or maybe, just someone to start a tree movement that makes it clear what can be accomplished with just a shovel and a few seeds. Cost: just plain goodwill from citizens.