… Take Care of Your Planet
By Jeff Salter
This week, we’re considering this fragile planet earth and how humankind – after many generations of DISregarding its ecology – can contribute to its rejuvenation. Some people call it Earth Day, but I prefer to regard it as a time for us to stop, look, and listen to what the Earth is telling us. Earth to Jeff … a bit less hazardous waste, please.
One of my writing colleagues (Sandra Sookoo) had inquired, earlier this week on her author page, what we might do – with one year and $10 million – to help get this planet’s ecology back in balance. My answer focused on redwoods.
Redwoods & Sequoias
As a kid, I saw within California’s expansive Sequoia National Forest, several national parks featuring ancient Redwoods. Even at that young age, I was appalled at how callously they had been destroyed, sometimes for rather (it seemed to me) trivial reasons. In one example, they sawed down a tree thousands of years old just to make a dance floor!
I don’t have any specifics worked out, but if I had one year and $10 million, I think I’d like to do something special with the ancient Redwoods.
I guess my efforts would include:
* about $3 million on education about the past abuses, some stats about how prevalent the redwoods once were, how old they actually were, how large they grew, etc.
* about $4 million on protection of the Redwoods still living (including protection from fires, pestilence, diseases, and indiscriminate logging).
* about $3 million on ecologically safe tours for school kids … to let them actually experience the majesty of those redwoods.
Did you realize (I did not) that Redwoods and Sequoias are NOT the same species? Here (from the Sequoia National Forest website) are some of the differences and similarities:
Giant Redwoods … are the tallest trees in the world, reaching heights of up to 378 feet tall. Their base can be up to 22 feet in diameter and they can weigh up to 1.6 million pounds. Live up to 2,000 years old; have branches up to 5 feet in diameter. Bark grows up to 12 inches thick; can reproduce either by seed or by sprout.
Giant Sequoias … don’t grow quite as tall but can still reach a very impressive height of up to 311 feet. While not the tallest, giant sequoia trees are the largest trees in the world. Their base can be up to 40 feet in diameter and a mature tree can weigh as much as 2.7 million pounds. They live up to 3,000 years old; have branches up to 8 feet in diameter. Bark grows up to 3 feet thick; reproduce by seed only.
For a look at my environment column, at about this time last year, please click here:
It contains a bit about my upbringing, and a link to a wonderful song by the New Christy Minstrels.
What are your chief environmental concerns?
What do you think about Earth Day and other times set aside to focus on ecological issues?
Do you recycle?
That’s a lot of questions, Jeff !
Great post, especially considering that I was driving through the Redwood NP only a few weeks ago.
Yes, we do recycle in this household. But it’s hard. With two girls who like writing, drawing and creating, it’s sometimes frustrating that they want to throw away a piece of perfect paper, which has a little nick in the corner. I try to (when within my budget) buy products without the massive amounts of wrapping and boxing. Simple is the deal for me!
Certainly, it’s much more difficult with youngsters. But they will see the great examples you set and will certainly get better as they age. One day they’ll be blogging that their kids waste paper which is still serviceable. Ha.
Shame on me … I’m not the best example for them on days when I’m incredibly tired or lazy …. 😦 …. no further details ……
well, me neither, Iris. But overall, I bet you’ve given your kids positive guidance on the environment.
Kinda yes – ” don’t do as your mother does” is the motto …. except for paper and the heater, I’m VERY strict when it comes to those two. No idea why. Probably because it hits my wallet.
The wallet is as good an incentive as any.
And it’s logical for each of us to have “pet areas” in which we’re particularly alert environmentally. Maybe your hubby is especially frugal with gasoline consumption, for example.
Petrol? Naaaa, not really. He tells me off when I chuck the can of coke in the normal rubbish, though ….. 😦
Wow. Now I want to take a visit to see the giant Redwoods and Sequoias. (I lived in California for a year but didn’t get a chance to see them.)
My efforts to save the planet is to continue to do the small, daily things like tossing the junk mail in the recycling can as opposed to the regular trash, the grocery store bags, and using a Brita water filter instead of buying all the water bottles. Is it enough? I doubt it, but I also remember how much I used to go through, so I recognize that every little bit helps.
I was in elem. sch. at the time, Micki — which was in the late 50s & very early 60s. Being less than half my current size, those enormous trees looked like they literally reached the sky.
Every small thing we can do helps a little. When all that is added up, it helps a lot.
I would love see the sequoias and redwoods. Have you looked at your carbon footprint? There are some good online tools out there to help you figure just what you, personally, are doing to the planet: http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/index.htm
We work hard at minimizing our energy consumption: driving responsibly, looking at energy labels on appliances, putting in low-E windows, recycling, eating local, incorporating a veggies-only day, etc., and still have a huge footprint–40 tons of CO2 emissions in year. BUT–that’s below the national average.
I’d likely be embarrassed at my carbon footprint. But when we built our house in 2007, we used double paned windows, extra caulking, and have six inch exterior walls, loaded with insulation. Of couse, extra in the attic as well. Our HVAC bills are about half what they were at a house in N.W. Louisiana which was less than half the size of this one.
Our waste disposal company has made it easier for us to recycle, since they pick it up every other week. At least they’re supposed to. And I’ve always been kind of a cheapskate, so I tend to use things until they’re totally unusable, give things away, or reuse them in other ways.
Us, too, Patty. We keep using towels until you can see thru them. Ha.
We do this in spurts, but we give lots of stuff to Goodwill or Salvation Army.
Our new county recycling pickup is once per month, at present, but maybe when it gets more established it might add a day.
Well, learn something new every day for sure! I did not know that Sequoias and Redwoods were not the same; thanks.
It is amazing how callously so many natural wonders have been disregarded and destroyed.In Florescent,Colorado, there are a few stumps left of what had been a small patch of petrified forest, (God only knows how old),which was chopped-down and scattered with wanton abandonment.An emergency Act of Congress protected the area from development at the last minute, sparing an incredible amount of well-preserved fossils ,(mostly of insects and plants).
We may be doing too little too late, but at least,I think, there is more awareness now.
It seems, in America at least the 19th century industrialization era produced the most widespread abuses of the environment. That includes everything from fishing, timber-ing, mining, water pollution, and air pollution. Wish we’d had more people like Muir and Teddy Roosevelt back then to speak out against it.
I recycle when I can. I’ve always recycled paper and aluminum. But I feel guilty tossing plastics away.I recently voted for paying more per month to by HOA just to have curbside recycling. If you know me well, you know that I abhor being nickle and dimed when I’m already paying a gajillion in taxes. But, fact is, people want convenience, myself included. Having curbside recycling just makes sense.
Great post, Jeff. (and sorry for commenting late!)
Never too late, Jenn. Whenever you comment is just in time. LOL.
Our county pick-up now takes plastic, but only #1 and #2. [Stamped on the bottom.] The higher numbers seem to have thinner plastic, so that may be the criteria.
One thing’s for sure: it has to be somewhat convenient if they want everybody to buy-in. Every extra layer of complexity will turn away another 10% of the populace.
Agreed. Not only that, giving perks for using less waste, like 5-10% off a product when not using a plastic bag for purchases. They, whoever that may be, need to focus on those companies making products, namely plastic bags (which I try to avoid using). Did you know it takes oil to make those bags. It’s such a vicious cycle. But I digress…
absolutely right, Jenn. There has to be committment at every level of the operations, from producers of raw materials, to the factories which manufacture the products, to the means by which they are packaged & transported, and on down the line … to us, the consumers.
I’ve been to the redwood forest and it’s definitely awe-inspiring
just looking at a few photos really brought back some memories … from over 50 yrs ago!
Yeah, my trip wasn’t quite that long ago but it has been over 30!
The sequoias have a matting, shallow, and wide spreading root system. There is no taproot. They only root to 12 to 14 feet deep even at maturity. A mature sequoia’s roots can occupy over 1 acre of earth and contain over 90,000 cubic feet of soil. That mass of matted roots and soil has to maintain the equilibrium of a tree that is nearly 300 feet tall and weighs nearly 2 million pounds.
Sorry I didn’t see this comment previously, Dusty. It got stuck somewhere, I guess.
Yes, that’s a little known fact about the huge redwoods. They gain stability by they way they intermingle with each other.