“I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
Forests are burning across the world, releasing more and more carbon dioxide into an already overloaded atmosphere. The world is warming more rapidly than expected. Extreme weather events are increasing. Scientists have now declared a climate “emergency.”
What can we do? Keep the political pressure on our elected officials–and elect officials who are willing to take action on climate change.
But we also need to take our own measures to save the world. Driving and flying less. Eating more vegetables and less meat. Redesigning our homes to be more energy efficient. And planting trees to replace the ones being lost.
The title for this blog came to me as I was driving back and forth on the interstate between my home town and the town where my daughter attends college. Here in the “heartland” of the United States there are endless fields of corn and soybeans, but the median and the strips of land beside the highway contain nothing but grass, mowed low to the ground. Mile after mile of unshaded highway reflecting heat into the atmosphere. Mile after mile of fertile land supporting nothing but useless grass.
As I drove back and forth, I began imagining what the highway would be like if all that unused land were planted with trees and shrubs. I imagined blessed patches of shade shielding my eyes from the incessant glare of traffic. I imagined tall and short trees and a variety of shrubs giving interest to the boring landscape and soaking up greenhouse gases. I mused on the wildlife that would flourish in the shelter of those trees and shrubs.
Interstate highways criss-cross the United States, covering thousands of miles. And while some are shaded by trees, many more are not. What if we began planting trees along the edges of interstates, as a first step towards replacing the forests being destroyed in the tropics?
I’m not the first one to think of this, of course. Check out this article from Scientific American: