By Stephen Burgers
When I was in third grade, we celebrated the first Earth Day. My school was in a middle class neighborhood which afforded each student a pine seedling to take home and plant.
I planted my tree and it ended up being cut down by my brother wielding our lawnmower. I didn’t contemplate an environmental holocaust because this was during the cold war which taught me, “life goes on.”
The concern about global warming for me is that unlike the Earth Day of third grade, time has allowed me to observe drastic environmental changes.
In January an iceberg the size of Manhattan broke free from the Arctic shelf and will float into warmer waters to melt.
Over the last century, 90 percent of the ice shelf has melted. Politically, South America is cornering the market on global, oxygen concerns.
One consistent catalyst in the colonization of the Americas from 1492 to the present has been the clear cutting of trees for agriculture and lumber.
It adds up to about five hundred years of tree cutting, counting the tree my brother accidentally cut with the lawnmower. Global warming did not happen overnight.
Planting trees is our only legitimate opposition. The change that one tree can produce in a single day is enough oxygen for four people, transfer 100 gallons of water from ground to air and can absorb 16.87 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year.
In the beginning of February I planted a second pine tree from Home Depot costing $4.95 and donated to the Arbor Day Foundation. I plant a tree a month because it makes a difference today and also for the young people who are not aware environmental problems, but who will inherit them.
The solutions will not be quick, but considering the impact of a single tree, my belief is planting one does make a difference.
This may not be an instant answer, but it is a reversal in one cause of the problem.
This may be more important to the citizens of the future than to baby boomers like me because the fact is “life goes on”.
“Environmental problems do not arise from the natural world operating on its own. Such actions arise from the specific actions of human beings.” -Society the Basics (sociology text).
(Stephen Burgers is a City Times staff writer)