“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Deforestation is one of the biggest problems that the human race is facing. Over the years, humans have ruined the planet earth and there is no sugar coating to this fact. The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. If we scale that to 46 years, the human race has only been on the earth for four hours. Our industrial revolution began a minute ago. In that time, we have destroyed more than 50% of the world’s forests. Now, you would think that if we are causing this, we should be able to stop it. That’s not the case. We aren’t stopping tree deforestation, and at the current rate it is going, the world’s rainforests will completely vanish in the next hundred years 1. This isn’t sustainable. We are depleting the forest faster than we can grow it back.
On average, people cut down around 15 billion trees each year. There are many negative effects that deforestation causes and among those, one of the major effects includes loss of habitat for millions of animals. Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive deforestation1. Another major effect that deforestation has, is on global warming. Trees play a critical role in absorbing greenhouse gases. Fewer forests mean larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere—and increased speed and severity of global warming1.
When Does It Stop?
Approximately 20% of trees have been cut down in North America, and it’s not only North America2. Other countries, like India, also have major deforestation issues. Although, India is working towards a goal to limit tree deforestation. Not to say that America isn’t working towards limiting tree deforestation, but in India, communities are taking action to prevent, and ultimately end the cutting of trees. There have been many instances where local communities have stood against deforestation. One example of this was the Chipko Movement. Chipko means “to hug”. The Chipko movement was a nonviolent social movement started by rural villagers in the 1973s3. The idea of the movement was that villagers would hug trees to prevent them from being cut down. The Chipko movement was inspired by a Rajasthani movement which took place in the 18th century3. A more recent example of local communities standing up against tree felling was in a small town in India called Dehradun4. In February, this small town held a protest against tree felling. There was a new road being built and many trees were planned to be cut down to make way for this road construction. The villagers said that they would embrace the trees like in the Chipko Movement4.
Here is a piece from the Times of India.
Residents of Dang village of Uttarkashi staged a protest Friday in a forest close to their village and Nehru Institute Mountaineering(NIM) against the chopping of trees to build a new Dang-Pokhri road. They said that they would embrace the trees like Chipko movement if the district administration team reaches to cut down the trees. Almost a year ago, the villagers had built a 550-meter road themselves to avoid felling of trees, claiming that it was accessible to both Dang and Pokhri. However, the technical committee of district administration has not approved the alignment of the road and residents of Pokhri are also insisting on the road, which was sanctioned by the state government to connect Pokhri with the district headquarter of Uttarkashi. People of both the villages have become arch-rivals on this issue. – TOI
As you can see, in India people are standing up and fighting to protect trees. In the US we are seeing more and more communities being silenced by big companies who are cutting down thousands of trees every day. On many occasions, people don’t and can’t stand up to these companies. These big organizations have so much control, and in many instances, they misuse their powers. An example of this was in one of the biggest coffee monopoly, Starbucks. Starbucks, not so long ago, was found guilty of buying palm oil and other agricultural products that were linked to tropical forest destruction5.
Now they have pledged to protect trees, but this leaves people skeptical because if such a big company can get away with deforestation, there could be many others doing it as well. There have also been many instances where Starbucks, itself, has been caught slacking off on its pledge5.
So the big question is, when does it stop. When will people realize how much damage is being done by deforestation? Unfortunately, that day seems nowhere close, but we can change that. We NEED to change that! The more trees we cut down, the worse the world will get. We need to save the Earth before it’s too late.
I believe it is now our time to stand up against these big companies and help end deforestation. We should take action. Go outside; plant trees or volunteer at an organization, because it is now up to us to change the world. It is now our job to end deforestation.
Nationalgeographic.com. (2018). Deforestation and Its Effect on the Planet. [online] Available at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/
Worland, J. (2018). http://time.com. Time. Available at:http://time.com/4019277/trees-humans-deforestation/ [Accessed 29 Nov. 2018].
“Chipko Movement | History, Causes, Leaders, Outcomes, & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica. N. p., 2018. Web. 29 Nov. 2018.3
News, City, Dehradun News, and Seema Sharma. “Dehradun: Villagers Threaten Agitation To Prevent Cutting Of Trees – Times Of India.” The Times of India. N. p., 2018. Web. 29 Nov. 2018.
Negin, E. (2018). Starbucks’ Deforestation-Free Pledge Not Worth Beans. [online] HuffPost. Available at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/elliott-negin/starbucks-deforestation-f_b_8824174.html [Accessed 29 Nov. 2018].