PROFIT before forest is a clear and present danger. If this mindset doesn’t change, we will not have a liveable Earth to bequeath.
So warned Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah in a speech on climate change and global warming delivered in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, on Tuesday. He is right. We seem to see trees as mere timber to be logged.
Time we got to know our trees. One, they are living things. Two, other life forms depend on them, including us. Remember, where the bee sucks, there the honey lies. Consider a royal reminder.
One tree absorbs close to 6kg of carbon dioxide per year. Let that tree grow 10 years or older, it absorbs 22kg of carbon dioxide. Plus it gives out oxygen for two people.
Here is more. On average, 0.4ha of forest is capable of isolating 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Now do the math for all the trees that have been felled here in greed and you will get the disaster we are rushing ourselves into.
And the disaster is, unfortunately, already here.
The National Geographic has pictures and prose to prove it. Wherever you look, glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, cloud forests are dying, and wildlife is dashing for dear life.
If this is not enough, on Feb 7, the Antarctica recorded its highest temperature: 18.3°C. That is sauna in the South Pole.
Soon glaciers may just be a word in the dictionary. There may not be a glacier to sink a Titanic again. But then again, there will be no one around to go cruising in Titanic 2.0.
Things were not always like this. The National Geographic’s calculation shows up a fairly constant global average, until 150 years ago. The level of greenhouse gases is higher now than any time in the last 800,000 years. That is how bad it has become.
Reasons are not hard to find. We needn’t go globetrotting to lay the blame at the rightful feet.
There is evidence aplenty here at home. Sultan Nazrin pointed out some.
Commercial development like there is no tomorrow. Even peat land is fodder for profit. Not to mention uncontrolled and illegal logging.
When greed is there, a fell purpose isn’t far behind. Fossil fuels aren’t helping either. Since crude oil’s discovery in 1875, we have been happily going places because of it. Only that they are all the wrong places, we now discover.
Bequeathing a liveable Earth to our coming generations means doing two things.
One, we must get rid of our dependence on fossil fuels. This is the easy part. Technology can solve this, though we are taking our sweet time coming out with renewable energy. Understandably, oil companies are slow to help.
Two, our mindset must change. And fast. Begin by treating trees as more than timber. A forest is after all a tree at a time.
Cut one down, it becomes that much less of a forest. Not to mention anything about depriving two people of oxygen. Better still, plant one and in 10 years, it would suck out 22kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
There was never a better way to see the forest and the trees.