Your Ecological House: What next for the climate fight? Trees! | Columnists
“It took a long time for people to focus on anything other than reducing emissions…” — William Moomaw, forest proponent and lead author of five IPCC reports
As an eight-year-old Cub in Durango, Colorado, I wanted to earn a Conservation Achievement Badge. I soon found myself with other scouts on a hot, arid slope outside of town, clumsily trying unsuccessfully to plant young pine trees in the hardened ground. Luckily an older scout did the right thing by helping me dig three small holes for the tiny roots of the saplings and cover them with soil. When we finished planting, a fire truck sprayed the dry slope with water. At our next scout meeting, the scout leader solemnly pinned my new badge on my shirt.
This old memory resurfaced as I pondered what steps the public should take to combat global warming, now that Congress has surprisingly passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), by far the most important climate legislation to date. Although the legislation itself is only a “down payment” on the necessary mitigation measures, its importance should not be ridiculed.
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On the one hand, the IRA contains a number of policies and programs – such as serious incentives for the purchase of an electric vehicle (EV) or electrical appliances (water heater, heat pump, etc.) .) for your home – which will directly reduce our fossil energy. fuel dependency while triggering positive feedback loops on emissions reductions. In other words, to use the electric vehicle example, a key conundrum has been that there are not enough charging stations to justify most people buying EVs, and not enough EVs to justify the construction of more charging stations. By addressing both issues simultaneously – with incentives, not rules – the IRA is setting a new trend in motion. As charging stations become common, there will be even more demand for electric vehicles, which will require even more charging stations, and so on.
Meanwhile, the IRA is encouraging upgrades to the power grid so that it can support all these new charging stations. It’s a good start.
But this is only the beginning. As the Sierra Club’s Sierra magazine pointed out after the bill passed, “the [IRA’s passage] provides leeway to push for more ambitious climate action. By “push”, they and countless other environmentalists mean the kind of political action – mass demonstrations and protests, relentless lobbying, election campaigning – that has put the IRA and similar legislation on the nation’s radar.
Good. Joining these movements, donating, speaking out are things that citizens can continue to do to move us in the right direction. But beyond politics, which while essential can be tedious, what can ordinary people do when the federal government is spending hundreds of billions revamping systems, like the national power grid that most people barely understand? and should be addressed by specialists?
This question is what brought the trees to mind. The trees, which surround us and are as accessible as a glance through most windows. Trees, which almost anyone can plant alone or in a group. Already the largest carbon sink on the planet, trees and their forests absorb, along with other land and sea plants, 57% (6.3 billion tonnes) of our annual emissions.
It is estimated that we could plant a trillion trees on a billion hectares of degraded land and reduce most emissions. However, this project comes with a caveat. It will take 40 to 60 years—time that we don’t have—for today’s saplings to become mature carbon sinks. Meanwhile, existing ancient forests around the world are doing the work, and if they continue to degrade, they could collapse before young people can effectively take over.
So anyone who wants to take part in the next phase of climate action can immediately join the global fight to preserve the world’s heritage forests, all while grabbing a shovel and earning a symbolic badge of merit in our eco-home.
Philip S. Wenz is an environmental researcher and writer. Read more articles from his series Your Ecological Home on its website at firebirdjournal.com.
So the EPA can simply tell coal plants to clean up their act and, unable to offer them any positive alternatives, let them figure out how to do it – force a much more costly transition in the long run. Preventing this would require a much deeper foray into the legal quagmire of adjudicating Congress’ regulatory intent than the Court likely should have plunged into in the first place.