Deforestation is a looming problem in our society. People have been cutting down trees extensively to build industries and factories. This problem is disastrous for the modern world since our planet Earth is proceeding towards rapid disintegration.
Our planet is facing problems such as overpopulation, depletion of the ozone layer, which is a boon to our planet and protects us from the Ultraviolet rays of the sun, lack of pure oxygen, an increase in the rate of greenhouse gases, pollution, etc. to cope with these problems, several countries are taking up initiatives to go greener.
This means that countries have opted for tree plantation drives to deal with the problem of deforestation and reduce the effect of global warming. But the question still lies, are tree plantation drives enough to cool down our planet and provide sufficient rainfall? We can do a detailed analysis on this matter.
Analysis of Plantation Drives and their effectiveness
- According to Mark Maslin and Simon Lewis, even though planting trees might help, it is impossible to correct the scenario just by planting trees. This is because global warming and lack of rain is a very widespread problem and needs systematic procedures to be followed, such as banning the usage of fossil fuel, cutting down on population and pollution and changing several habits in our day to day lives and opting for eco-friendly measures.
- Over the last two decades, afforestation and reforestation initiatives in India, China, and South Korea have led to the removal of 12 billion metric tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere. This is quite a positive impact and can be considered as a small step towards restoring climatic stability.
- According to researchers, 900 metres hectare of land with trees can effectively remove 2/3rd of carbon deposited in the atmosphere. These trees can together remove around 205 Billion tonnes of carbon from the environment, which is roughly the size of the continent of the USA.
- Since the beginning of agriculture, humans have cut down 3 trillion trees. Forty-three countries have pledged to restore 292 metre hectares of greenery, which is roughly ten times of UK in size.
- With the population estimated to rise from 7.7 Billion to 10 Billion by 2050, 70% of people in the future will live in cities, making it necessary to reforest and preserve rural areas.
- Between 2000 and 2015, Europe recorded 2.2metre hectares of forest growth.
- During the 1990s, environmental deterioration in China has led to an initiative of planting 100metre hectares of land with trees.
- Apart from pollution, planting trees help in issues of soil erosion stabilises rain patterns, etc. New forests can be expected to remove around 57 Billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere in around a century. Rather than reducing the present emissions, planting trees can ensure reducing carbon content from past emissions, as well.
- Despite plantation drives every monsoon, tree cover had remained static at 20% in Delhi, which is 10% short from what Delhi set as a target around a decade back. The prime reason is that these saplings don’t often grow into trees, but perish instead. Though Delhi is one of the greenest capitals in the world, it has no proper planning while planting trees, and this, in turn, rendered the plantation drives almost ineffective.
- Saplings require 20 to 25 years to reach the condition where they can contribute. Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, however, has taken the initiative to research and track wind patterns to ensure maximum benefits from a tree plantation. Thirty years of wind patterns are being studied, and 15 polluted cities have been targeted for cleaner air. The action plan comprises 58 short and long term action points which are to be taken up by 17 different departments within a specified time limit. Native plant species are to be selected based on their air pollution tolerance index to maximise the effect of large scale plantation.
- India and especially cities like Delhi, currently require dedicated green belts around the pollution hotspots. The average reduction of particulate matter near a tree ranges between 7% and 24%, and the cooling effect near a tree is around 2° Celsius. By 2014, 90% of the global population was living in a polluted environment that did not abide by UN health guidelines; hence, green belts aim to provide cooler climatic conditions and reduction in particulate matter, thereby coping with pollution.
- However, excessive plantation drives can affect ecosystems in a negative way. Saplings can not simply substitute felling of trees, and needs proper planning and research.
- The forest department has introduced biodegradable bags for saplings. Effective plantation drives and grove or boulevard formations can even reduce sound pollution. Neem is a tree with numerous health benefits, while shade trees can be another popular choice considering the tropical climate and heat. Hence while conducting plantation drives, trees beneficial to the environment and ecosystem should be chosen instead of selecting at random.
Answers to the question
Hence the point to be discussed and concluded on was what are tree plantation drives and if they are enough to get sufficient rain. The answer is clear; they are not. This is because the lack of rain is due to disturbed weather patterns, and the disturbances in the weather patterns are not only because of the lack of trees but various other reasons as well.
Deforestation is no doubt a significant problem that needs to be dealt with fast; otherwise, our planet is in danger. But if we conduct plantation drives and carry on living our lives the way we are, then there will be no impact at all. We need to change the way we lead our lives and choose eco-friendly and biodegradable substitutes for each and everything we use in our daily lives. And most importantly, we must stop burning fossil fuel. Only then can we truly re-stabilise the weather patterns and get sufficient amounts of rainfall.
Ways to stabilise weather patterns
There can be several ways that we can opt for in our day to day lives to restore the climatic patterns and get a sufficient amount of rainfall.
- We can plant meaningful trees after doing our research. Trees often do not survive due to their seasonality and other environmental hazards. This can be overcome by making a vivid analysis of the weather and environmental patterns of a place before trees are planted.
- Trees should be looked after well after they have survived. They should be nourished and taken care of and not left unattended. Otherwise, they will not survive for long.
- Non-biodegradable products, especially plastic products, should be banned entirely.
- Household electronic products that make use of harmful effluents such as CFCs should not be used.
- Chemical effluents should be treated before emitting them out into the atmosphere from the factories and industries. When released into the environment, they cause air and water pollution and increases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thereby aggravating global warming.
- Fossil fuel should be discarded entirely. One should make use of biogas to serve the purposes of transportation and running machines, as biogas is eco-friendly and completely safe to use.
Hence, we can conclude that our environment needs more concern on our part to re-stabilise it. We cannot just conduct tree plantation drives and sit back and relax, hoping everything will be restored on its own, because only planting trees is not enough. We must nourish the saplings and make sure they do not die out.
Moreover, we should make several changes to our lifestyle as well. Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has been protesting against the government for allowing activities to go on day in and day out that is causing a major threat to our environment and leading to the rapid disintegration of our planet.
She first gained recognition for her activism in August 2018 when at only 15 years of age when she began spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on global warming by holding up a signboard that read (in the Swedish language) “School strike for climate.”
By and by, other students engaged in similar protests in their communities. Greta and other teens her age joined together and organised a school climate strike movement under the name “Fridays for Future.” After Thunberg addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world.
In 2019, there were at least two coordinated multi-city protests involving over one million students each. Her continued protests and speeches against the world leaders have spread awareness about such issues worldwide. They have made people realise that we indeed need to rise and take measures to save the planet we live in and act immediately.