The Amazon rain forest is often dubbed “the lungs of the world” because it sucks up global emissions of carbon dioxide, and produces about 20% of earth’s oxygen. It was not very long ago (2019) that many citizens and scientists alike were alarmed by the wildfires in Amazonia. And, from September 2019 through March of 2020, the world watched in horror as the Australian wildfires engulfed huge swaths of homes, forests, domestic livestock, and endangered species.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and those stories and others about climate change are often lost or overlooked in the midst of the crisis. (Ironically, the disease is particularly damaging to the human lungs, which seems an apt metaphor for the state of our climate.)
Every time we hear news about wildfires many of us instinctively cringe, knowing that they are devastating to all forms of life, and that the smoke and heat only worsen the levels of CO2 in our atmosphere. We may feel powerless to help, unless we are literally on the front lines, fighting the fires.
Here in temperate New England we generally don’t have to worry about massive forest fires. But our region can help offset global carbon emissions, and one way to do that is to protect forests in our own region. Thanks to the work of conservationists in the past century, we’ve saved a lot of open space in New England. But Marion Stoddart, an early environmentalist, often reminds people that “the work is never done.” Population and economic growth continue to push developers to mow down forests, while money that can be used to preserve and protect forests is often in scarce supply.
In this era of climate change it may seem like a no-brainer to protect forests, because even our local forests serve as “lungs.” But it’s not easy, and there is even some debate about best practices for forest land management.
To learn more about the critical role of forests, and one family’s local efforts to protect forest land, please join our next CounterAct Climate Change program. Ralph Baker, who holds a PhD in soil science, will present “Mitigate Climate Change by Protecting Forests,” on Thursday, July 30 from 7:30-8:30 pm EDT.
Topics will include:
- How forests sequester carbon
- How logging a forest increases carbon emission and decreases biodiversity
- Why burning timber waste in biomass fuel plants is bad for people and the planet
- An overview of the Baker Family Public Forest Reserve in Fitchburg, MA