My Turn: Join the mini-forest revolution

  • Wendell State Forest FILE PHOTO

Published: 3/15/2023 8:08:31 PM

To understand the plight that we human beings are in, you have to understand what causes climate change, rising temperatures and weather instability. To sum it up, the cause is increasing greenhouse gases.

There are about six families of greenhouse gases, starting with carbon, which is measured carbon=1. Measurement of greenhouse gas is in “carbon equivalents” or “carbon-e”; several families of greenhouse gases include methane, carbon e=90, (dissipates a year from release to carbon-e=25); nitrious oxides, carbon e=298, and the worst: chlorofloracarbons, carbon-e=over 20,000. (principally from leaking chemicals used to charge cooling systems).

To just lower the rate of increasing greenhouse gas, we need to understand where these noxious pollutants are coming from, and then stop the rising tide of these gases.

About two-thirds of the greenhouse gas is coming from the burning of fossil fuel: transportation fuel such as gasoline/diesel, and home heating fuel. Also natural (fracked) gas is currently being burned in Massachusetts to generate 63% of the electricity used in the state (However, that is already being replaced by giant wind turbines off the coast, and solar systems on land).

Gas also is used for home-heating and cooking. Another noxious gas, nitrous oxide, is blown into the atmosphere from farming: from plowing and runoff from land, rich with the nitrogen/carbon sequestered by plants over millions of years.

Massachusetts has developed and voted into law an ingenious system to lower greenhouse gas emissions 100% by 2050. The law is known as “The Pathway to Net Zero by 2050.” It mandates a series of five-year plans (2020-2050), each preceded by a greenhouse gas study helping us measure our progress, pinpointing the sources and solutions to rising emissions.

In Massachusetts law, the goal of 100% reduction by 2050 is the deadline defined by the International Panel on Climate Change. The same goals are being addressed globally. Other states and countries are already far ahead of Massachusetts and the U.S., but Massachusetts is moving decisively on its useful, replicable planning process.

However, this only stops the rising tide. Measurements of millions of years of greenhouse gases show that Earth had never exceeded 350 parts/million carbon-dioxide until now. But Earth’s atmosphere is already over 410 parts/million and rising rapidly.

I asked a well-known medical doctor, very active in the climate movement. She sent me a study showing that with an additional 100 parts/million, humans may be unable to breathe! Can we human beings find ways to lower the already oversupply of atmospheric carbon equivalents, quickly?

The International Panels on Climate Change offer us an answer: Plants and especially trees pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and with the help of an army of underground allies (certain kinds of microscopic animals, and mushrooms in forested land or prairies). Powered by the energy of photosynthesis generated by leaves, plants convert atmospheric carbon-e into stems, woody trunks and branches. These same plants reduce flooding and “exhale” the oxygen that animals/people need to survive.

This remarkable collaboration between animals and plants created by Mother Nature over millions of years must be kept in balance if we are to survive the overpopulation of Earth by 8 billion human beings!

To understand how we can all make a difference, we also need to understand that the larger the tree, the more carbon it sequesters; so 1% of trees, the largest trees, sequester 50% of the carbon. However, because it takes over 50 years to grow a tree that will sequester significant amounts of carbon-e and our deadline is 2050, our task is to protect the largest trees, not allowing them to be harvested and plant trees that will be able to grow quickly.

So join the mini-forest revolution. Become a part of the deeper solution. Read the inspiring book by Hannah Lewis, “The Mini Forest Revolution: Using the Miyawaki Method to Rapidly ReWild the World.” It is a global movement to support existing forests, and recruit whole community groups of people to speed forest development, thus protecting generations to come.

Pam Kelly is climate change chair at All Souls Unitartian Universalist Congregation in Greenfield. 


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy