Wangari Maathai, who has done more to change the landscape of Africa than almost anyone is calling for the world to plant a billion new trees, and keep them alive. Doing so will reduce desertification, absorb heat-creating carbon from the atmophere, and improve our quality of life worldwide.
A friend of mine from college works helping plant trees in Africa, and describes the sheer amount of labor it takes to keep trees alive in the desertified soil of much of Kenya. And yet, the people who do Maathai's work haul water and protect their trees from animals with enormous attention and care, because they know their quality of life and the quality of life of their children depends on it. Can we, who are more priveleged, work less hard and have everything they do not, do less?
In the Northeast here, the problem is often keeping the forest at bay, not growing it. But as heating oil prices rise and the climate changes, we also need to tend to our trees. Because 200 years ago, the Northeast was largely denuded of forest. If we put woodstoves in every house, where will the wood come from? What harm will we do in our quest to keep warm. So everyone reading this needs to plant some trees (I'll have to wait until spring, sadly). Call the Arbor Day foundation, or check out the Musser Forests catalog for some wonderful trees www.musserforests.com. Or plant some fruiting trees, and add to your food self-sufficiency as well.
And support the work that Maathai and others are doing in the third world. In part, their world is hot and dry because we in the west are burning fuel. The very least we can do (and there's much more) is plant our trees, and send some money to Kenya. And don't forget to register your trees with the UN.