Lots has been written about the need to protect our environment and the need to take action to address the environmental degradation of recent decades which has contributed to climate change.
As the Australian Department of Climate Change says on its website "Climate change is one of the greatest economic, social, and environmental challenges of our time." http://www.climatechange.gov.au/index.html
Together with awareness of the environment has come a heightened sensitivity to the impact of our daily lives on our planet. Our 'carbon footprint'.
Carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our daily activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce. The impact is measured in carbon dioxide or CO2 units.
Environmental campaigners call on everyone to reduce their carbon footprint with the aim of becoming carbon neutral whereby our activities contribute zero carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere.
The big question is — how to do that?
One acknowledged way to help address climate change and reduce your carbon footprint, as advocated by the Australian Department of Climate Change, is to "Plant trees to absorb greenhouse gases. But be careful: if your prunings and leaves go to landfill instead of composting, they will decay without oxygen, generating more greenhouse gas than was stored in the plant material as it grew." http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/gwci/food.html
Our relationship with plants and trees is essentially a giant circle. Plants 'breathe in' the carbon dioxide we produce and then recycle it into oxygen that we can breathe.
- Trees renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.
- A large tree will 'breathe in' approximately 20.3kgs of carbon dioxide / annum and figures are based on a 40 year life span of the tree. www.plant-a-tree-today.org
- "An average tree stores 6 kilograms of carbon per year; a mature tree can absorb upwards of four times that amount." www.americanforests.org/planttrees
- On average every Australian produces 9.7 metric tonnes of CO2 per annum according to the latest published figures (2002) of the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report (UNDP, HDR) and the World Resources Institute's Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (WRI, CAIT) for developed nations.
- The family offset figure is simply 9.7 metric tonnes CO2 multiplied by the number of people in your family.
- One mature tree intercepts between 54-109 kilograms of small particles and gases of air pollution. (NGIA)
- One tree produces nearly 118 kilograms of oxygen each year.
- Planting deciduous trees near your home will reduce direct sunlight and heat absorption in summer. During winter the same trees will help insulate to keep your home warm. (NGIA)
- Planting a 10 metre tree reduces heating and cooling costs by 8-12% per annum (NGIA)
- Shade trees can make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler in the summer. www.treesaregood.com
- Trees lower air temperature by evaporating water in their leaves.
- Tree roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
- Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rain water, as well as protecting aquifers and watersheds. http://www.treesaregood.com/funfacts/Environment.aspx
- Deciduous trees are nature's reverse cycle air conditioners. They let light through in winter and provide shade in summer.