It’s December, time for Copenhagen climate talks and Christmas – an admittedly weak connection, but at least trees figure in both.
An intentional forest, though less valuable than a native one, is better than none at all. One of the issues being grappled with in Copenhagen is REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Richer countries will have to be assisting poorer ones in preventing the destruction of their forests, home to millions of species and whose loss accounts for nearly 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than that of the entire transportation sector.
As for our Christmas trees, nearly 30 million of them will be sold this month in the U.S.. Environmentally speaking, some say it is better to buy a plastic one. Over 10 million of those will be sold – GASP! The world needs more real trees, not pvc (polyvinyl chloride) ones! One true environmental negative about Christmas tree farms is the fossil fuels used to transport them. (The longer lasting plastic ones are shipped from China.) As most states grow them, if you can buy a relatively local one, that negative is cancelled out. Also you can buy a Certified Naturally Grown tree, which means no pesticides or chemical fertilizers were used. And, you could buy a live one, if you can then plant it.
More Christmas tree facts:
It takes from 8 to 12 years for a tree to grow to optimum Christmas tree height of 6 to 8 feet, depending on the type of tree.
While growing they absorb carbon, control erosion and provide habitat for wildlife.
In the new year, following their brief life of merry adornment and scenting of our air, they can be turned into mulch if recycled, and continue to be life promoting, which is more than one can say about the plastic ones.
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Barbara Hirsch, recording engineer, eco-person
“Unless someone like you cares a whole lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
– The Lorax, Children’s book by Dr. Seuss