Climate change and natural disasters

By Kathleen Rogers

MiNDFOOD’s environmental columnist Kathleen Rogers says combating climate change begins with planting trees. MiNDFOOD reports.

Floods have swept across Pakistan, drought-fuelled fires have smothered Moscow, landslides have killed hundreds in China and the largest ice calving since 1962 occurred in Greenland. It has indeed been a challenging year for our climate.

What is the link? Climate change. We see its impact all around us, and there is more to come. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has long predicted that “rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heatwaves, and more intense rainfalls”. We all know the challenges ahead are daunting, but we are not defenseless as long as we 
treat climate change as a 
call to action.

Planting trees is a simple step we can all take. The Earth Day Network is working 
with partners to plant one million 
trees in 16 countries – including important hotspots such as Haiti and Brazil. Moving forward, the Network has committed to planting another 
one million trees through 2011.

Six million hectares of primary forest are lost every year due to deforestation and modification through selective logging and other human interventions.
Only 20 per cent of the world’s forests remain in large intact areas. These forests consist of tropical rainforests, mangrove, coastal and swamp forests. Monsoon and deciduous forests flourish in the drier and more mountainous regions. Primary forests shelter diverse animal and plant species, and culturally diverse indigenous people with deep connections to their habitat.

In many countries, tree plantings will be used to improve urban air quality, provide urban animal habitats, and supply free and healthy food sources. They will also support innovative environmental education programs for youth in countries including France, Germany, Sweden and Japan.

The loss of forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector.

The UN’s Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign encourages the planting of trees in four key areas: degraded natural forests and wilderness areas; farms and rural landscapes; sustainably managed plantations; and urban environments. So 
plant a tree if you can, and take action as part of your own campaign against climate change.


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