As humans destroy forests, their natural barrier against climate change is also destroyed. We can reverse this effect by cutting down on paper, planting trees, and supporting sustainable corporations.
Trees act as a natural carbon sink, meaning that they take in some of the carbon dioxide emissions that humans emit, therefore mitigating climate change. Trees, according to a World Resources Institute report, can provide 23% of the climate mitigation necessary to meet the Paris Climate Agreement. However, trees and forests have been disappearing at an alarming rate due to deforestation. Deforestation is the process of destroying forests to make paper or to clear land, among other reasons. In the past 50 years, the Amazon has lost 17% of its forest.
Cut Down on Paper
The first thing that you can do is to cut down on your paper usage. You should buy only what you need/will use. Determine if you need to throw out that piece of paper, if you need that document printed, or if you need a paper copy of the newspaper or a magazine (read it online instead), and many other things. By assessing these simple tasks, you can improve how your daily life impacts the climate. Another thing to watch out for is paper bag usage. Paper bags are more carbon-intensive than plastic bags because they require more water, they use trees, and, indirectly, they are thicker and take up more trucks to transport.
Plant a Tree
Many programs exist, such as One Tree Planted and Conservation.org, that allow you to donate to plant a tree, an option more feasible for people who live in a city. Conservation.org allows you to calculate your carbon footprint and tells you how many trees you need to plant annually to offset it. However, those who can should also physically plant a tree. While a single tree won't do much, if everyone does it, then you can make a difference.
Support Sustainable Corporations
Only buy from companies that support sustainable solutions. If you do not give your business to companies that fund deforestation efforts by supporting the logging industry, for example, then they will be forced to change their practices, very similar to the reason for an industrial emissions tax. Then, you should invest your money in companies that are supporting sustainable solutions, such as Patagonia.
Gibbs, David, Nancy Harris, and Frances Seymour. “By the Numbers: The Value of Tropical Forests in the Climate Change Equation.” World Resources Institute, October 4, 2018. https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/10/numbers-value-tropical-forests-climate-change-equation.
Nunez, Christina. “Deforestation and Its Effect on the Planet.” Deforestation facts and information. National Geographic Society, February 25, 2019. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/.
Image: Grover, Sami. “How Deforestation Can Make Us Sick.” Treehugger. Accessed June 20, 2020. https://media.mnn.com/assets/images/2014/12/shutterstock_1167142900.jpg.653x0_q80_crop-smart.jpg