In an elementary school in Batangas, Philippines, after Taal volcano’s eruption residents saw an island devoid of trees and plants, all killed by lava flow and lahar. The island looked dead, a figment of a barren planet.
This just shows how important are trees and plants, said Agriculture secretary Dr .William D. Dar to no one in particular. The onlooking teachers nodded in silence.
Indeed, where will we be without trees and plants? According to Arvind Singh of the Banaras Hindu University, plants/trees play a very important role in our life. They fulfil our food, fodder fuel, timber, fibre and medicinal needs. Plants/trees are helpful in mitigation of environmental pollution. They are the source of oxygen and sink of carbon dioxide Trees such as Tamarind (Tamarindus indicus) Ashok (Polyalthia longifolia) and Neem (Azadirachta indica) are very useful in control of noise pollution.
Plants/trees are also helpful in restoration of degraded lands. Furthermore, plants are useful in removal of heavy metals from the contaminated sites. Trees are helpful in the maintenance of ground water level.
Subir Bandiyophay of the Botanical Survey of India said trees and plants are not merely important in our lives but they are synonymous to our lives.
“Where do we get the oxygen we breathe? The food we eat? The medicine to cure our diseases? Shelter we live in? Clothes we wear? Our lives are nothing without the plants and trees. That is why my life’s primary goal as a researcher is to campaign for the sustainability and conservation of these resources of life -plants, trees, animals and water bodies. “
The Greenhouse Effect
“But, why is there a concern about saving them? That was in the question asked”
In order to understand how trees relate to global warming, you first have to understand what the greenhouse effect is, says Marwah Firas of Al-Maarif University, Egypt.
Just like a greenhouse traps heat inside, Earth has a “natural greenhouse effect” in which some of the sun’s infrared radiation is trapped to warm the planet. In the atmosphere, there are certain gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, ozone, and water vapor, which aid in this process by reflecting the heat back to earth. This process allows Earth to maintain a comfortable temperature. (An average of around 57 degrees Fahrenheit) If this radiation is not trapped, the average temperature on earth would drop to zero degrees Fahrenheit, (-18 degrees Celsius), and life would not be as we know it today, he said.
In this way, these greenhouse gases are very important and central to the survival of the living organisms on Earth. The greenhouse effect is what makes Earth so unique from the other planets; we have just the right amount of greenhouse gases to make for a suitable temperature, Firas added.
Yet, too much of something is not a good thing, and in this case, the excess of these greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, in our atmosphere is detrimental to life and the environment. With a plethora of these gases being released into the atmosphere by human innovations, the greenhouse effect is enhancing and this is causing the rise in temperature that we have been experiencing in the last two centuries. Since 1750, (the beginning of the Industrial Revolution), the output of carbon dioxide alone has risen about 36%, and since 1880, which marks the end of the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s temperature has risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Although this may not seem like an enormous increase, the effects it leaves on the environment and the organisms that live in it are damaging and deadly. Many plants and animals cannot adapt to temperature changes in their environment quickly, and this is causing many to become endangered, and for some extinct”
So how do trees and deforestation relate to global warming?
Trees play a huge role in the carbon cycle. They convert the CO2 in the air to oxygen, through the process of photosynthesis, and in this way, they can be looked at as a natural regulator of the carbon dioxide. The more trees, the less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the more oxygen.
Since we live in an age where carbon dioxide is very abundant in the atmosphere, released through man-made inventions, such as cars, factories, and power plants, it is vital, more than ever, that trees fulfill their part in the environment and take some of the excess carbon dioxide out of the air.
Unfortunately, deforestation is preventing this job to be fully accomplished, and with half of all the Earth’s forests gone, and four million trees cut down each year just for paper use, the amount of carbon dioxide is rising. With more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more of the sun’s radiation is being reflected back to earth, instead of space, and this is causing our average temperature to rise. In this way, deforestation is a major issue when it comes to global warming.
Frini Vasan of University of New Mexico elaborated , If all plants and trees die that will be the end of our civilization. the CO2 levels will keep building up, the planet temperature will increase monotonically, the oceans will warm and at some point we will all fry to death. Plants and trees are our friends taking in our wastes of CO2 and generating life saving oxygen. They are also things of beauty where we derive much enjoyment from including the obvious – our source of food as well as food to the entire animal chain.
Plants are consisidered to be the main source of human nutrition and all the organisms that feed it, surrounded by birds, animals, animals, insects and fish … Scientific progress has dictated that plants are natural plants for the production of oxygen necessary for human and animal respiration … Plants on the other side with their trees and green covers protect the land
Desertification and soil erosion and their environmental presence are essential for the conservation of many animals from the risk of extinction …