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Food for Thought

I saw a program explaining the over-abundance of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere: what causes it, what it does to the environment, and what can – or might – be done about it. If you passed your junior high science classes you should remember that as we breathe in air and absorb the oxygen from it, we exhale carbon dioxide. We also produce carbon dioxide when we use fossil fuels to produce electricity, run our vehicles and operate our factories. Plants, very cooperatively, absorb carbon dioxide from the air and respire oxygen. Unfortunately, we need trees and other plants for other purposes than keeping our air healthy, so we harvest them, causing a shortage of those wonderful oxygen factories. All plants, of course, help with this – but trees are the star players here.
Scientists have been trying to find methods of replicating the process that trees perform and have actually invented artificial trees that remove carbon dioxide from the air. The artificial trees require a certain amount of electricity in order to function, so their use would use more fossil fuels to produce the necessary electricity, which would only add to the dilemma. There may be a way of resolving this problem, but it seems a long way off and we're rapidly getting deeper and deeper into the mess. The problem is, unlike living trees, these artificial trees have no way of using up the carbon dioxide they remove from the atmosphere, so it must be collected and disposed of somewhere. The best the scientists can come up with for disposal is to dump it in the ocean.
Another program I watched recently warned that certain areas of our oceans are becoming liquid garbage dumps. This is not exactly news, as we have long been aware that most coastal cities haul garbage out to sea rather than burying it underground. Both practices only add to the poisoning of our soil and water. I don't think that dumping the unwanted carbon dioxide into the ocean is going to be satisfactory as a long-term solution. What we need to do is find a use for the carbon dioxide – like feeding it to plants, maybe?
Well, the plants aren't able to keep up with the demand, so it looks as if we need more plants. I understand that it would all even out if there were seven mature trees per person. That doesn't seem like a lot. Looking out of my window I can see a couple dozen mature trees just on the east side of my house, and there are several acres of huge oak trees behind the house. Looks like I have more than my share. But, I'm willing to share my trees with those of you who live in upstairs apartments and other places where there's no room for trees. You might get some houseplants, though, every little bit helps.
Seven trees per person doesn't seem like a lot, but if you have a large family, you could find yourself living in a virtual jungle if you try to keep things in balance. I recommend that parents plant one tree when a child is born and add another each year until the child graduates from high school. This will equal 19 trees. This amount is over twice the number recommended, but then we have to allow for a few that don't survive. Trees don't grow very fast, but think of them as replacements for the many existing trees that will surely die by the time the ones you plant reach maturity. Even at that, we're just breaking even in the carbon dioxide/oxygen race. Looks like you're going to have to plant even more trees to get ahead.
We've long been told that trees add to the value of your property, so I can't help wondering why most building projects begin with a bulldozer to get rid of all the trees and other plant life on the lot. Even if some of the existing trees aren't the most desirable over the long run, they're better than nothing until newly planted ones grow enough to do some good. You might also consider the use of wood in your building. Are there other materials that would work as well or even better? Try to take care of the wooden structures you already have, so they don't have to be replaced or mended for a long time. Keep an eye out for rot and insect damage and do what is necessary to stop or prevent it.
And, if anyone has a way to keep the flickers from eating my house, I wish you'd let me know.