National Tree Week

“…the connection is there, waiting to be remembered.”

– Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Where has National Tree Week gone? It seems to have flown by. But the thing is, the importance of trees should be celebrated and funded every week. Not just in a given week each year, as wonderful as that is.

This year…we know it’s been different. Many large gathering based projects have been disrupted, postponed or stopped altogether. But that doesn’t mean the funding can slow or cease. In fact, funding is vital now more than ever.

The Importance of Trees

The National Tree Council of the UK began their campaign back in 1973 with a slogan of “Plant A Tree in ’73” and here we are closing in on 50 years later still shouting the same message. So why has it taken pretty much until now for the world to realise the importance of trees and how, without them, humans, indeed all species, don’t stand a chance.

Why Now?

Maybe I should begin at the point where we ground to a halt. Is it just me or did anyone else think, Why now? Why this year?

It’s the start of a new decade – the decade – where everything must change…it has to.

As devastating and heart-breaking as the pandemic has been and continues to be, I can’t shake the feeling that it really has been the mother of all wake up calls. Did this have to happen for us to turn the “blinkers” off?

Think about. 2020. The very beginning of, it could be argued, the most important decade in the history of humanity. One decade. A decade which, by the time it ends, we must have not only changed the way we think, but the way we eat, consume, work, play and everything else in between.

The pandemic has certainly shown us we can change when forced to.

And you know what? Lockdown has shown there are other ways we can work and live. Working from home has been good for some of us. More time with family. No horrendous commutes. More time to exercise, to relax.

But, equally, for some lockdown has been entrapment. Hell. Rises in mental health issues and a 37% rise in the number of children contacting Childline. (Figures from BBC News report)

What it has shown is that WFH should be an option for all those who can and want to. But what about those who can’t? Currently, New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern is encouraging companies to offer a four-day working week, something Unilever are trialling right now with no reduction in salary.

So, if WFH is arguably better for the environment – carbon omissions dropped during the first lockdown to unprecedented low levels since records began – how we do avert a climate catastrophe and save our mental health at the same time? Well, if we fail to address climate breakdown now, mental health cases will rocket. How could they not? There are proven links between climate breakdown and poverty as highlighted by ActionAid. Poverty only seeks to increase mental health issues. Job losses, food insecurity, shelter. The list goes on.

Talking Targets

What we have to realise is that no-one is coming to save us. Don’t believe for a second that governments and big tech can solve the problem of climate change for us. Many may talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. Just take the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015 where ambitious carbon reduction targets were set for all countries to achieve below 2% rise in global CO2 levels this century. But governments aren’t doing enough. Not yet.

This week Boris Johnson announced a 68% target for the reduction in emissions by 2030 for the UK. That’s more like it, isn’t it? Yes, absolutely but there is a significant gap at the moment between aspirations and policies.

Next week the PM will hold a virtual climate summit in place of where COP26 should have happened in Glasgow. He will encourage other world leaders to cut harder and faster. Data newly released shows we are making some progress and more countries are committing to removing fossil fuels from their economies, particularly Biden’s US and China, the worlds largest polluters.

This is good news especially as these two countries are classed as “Critically Insufficient” by Climate Action Tracker.

Whilst there is definite hope that governments are waking up, it will only be enough if EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US plays our part.

Because the truth is, Gaia doesn’t give a damn about us.

Ed Matthew, a Cop26 co-director for the Climate Coalition, which comprises 140 civil society groups with 22 million members, said: “This is important progress but not sufficient. A more ambitious cut is both feasible and necessary to keep us safe, and reflect our massive historic carbon emissions. We must remember, too, that the climate will not respond to targets, it will respond to carbon cuts. It is action that counts.”

Action counts. And make no mistake, Gaia will not, I repeat, not place the needs of one species above that of the other and will act in accordance of what is best for all species. At the tipping point, the rebalancing begins. The clock is reset.

Gaia is sick. In the grip of such a fever. She’s been in one before, as scientist and creator of Gaia Theory, James Lovelock explained, and it took 100,000 years to recover from it. The difference is, this time, we are responsible and must face the consequences.

What the pandemic has done is force us to look at ourselves. The way we work. The way our communities interact (or don’t). The way we view each other. The way we depend upon each other. And the way our society is built, ground up, not top down. And we must change. We must change what we eat and how much. How often we travel. And, how much we consume.

In Tree We Trust

Did you know that it costs approximately £0.40 to cover the cost of planting a sapling? Yes, you read that right. 40 British pennies. Certain tycoons around the world could fund entire national forests without it even making a dent in their bank balance. But alas, for some, they don’t live by the mantra…

“plants over profit”.

Just imagine if they truly believed in that. Businesses put a percentage of their profits to fund the planting of trees.

Better still, imagine if we all believed in that.

Just let that sink in…

Business needs profit to survive, this we know, but it shouldn’t sacrifice the Earth to do so, which is the state of our world at the moment. We are literally sacrificing the natural world for profit and materialistic gain.

Translation = we are consuming ourselves to death.

Literally. Actually.

This thought – the sacrificing of nature – brings me back to what Diana said. “…the connection is there. Waiting to be remembered.”

And remember we must…

As founder of Treesisters Clare Dubois states:

It is only, and I don’t use “only” lightly here – by reconnecting as a species, by reconnecting to other species and leaving behind our need to dominate and consume, and, by reconnecting to our environment can we save ourselves. Climate change is already devastating parts of the planet. Think of the wild fires and the horrendous loss of life. And that is only the beginning because the planet is getting hotter and will continue to do so. Fact.

The suffering will continue and the breakdown of the climate will be down to our indifference…greed…blindness…entitlement…self-righteousness.

The Earth owes us nothing. We owe it, everything.

That’s one hell of a slap you’ve just give us, Jane. Come on, it’s Christmas. Lighten up. After this year we deserve a break, right?

We do. But only if we give nature a break. Fair’s fair.

“Tell you what,” began Gaia. “You put that piece of plastic crap down, and I’ll chill a little. And if you chuck a couple a trees in that shopping cart of yours, we might be able to continue to play nicely together. Deal?”

Your choice.

Yes. She’s talking to you. Yes, you. Me. Everyone. Every human. The birds didn’t get us into this mess. Neither did the orang-utans. Nor for that matter did the oak trees or holly bushes. Nor the pangolins, rhinos, snow leopards, lions…just you, dear human.

“But you want people to buy your books? Aren’t you a hypocrite?”

I was. Past tense.

Business will continue, but that must not and should not mean “business as usual” because we can’t ever go back to that. Ever.

Green Economy. Green Future.

Imagine every business directly funding trees.

Imagine every business offering you – at the point of purchase – the option to add a tree to your shopping cart.

Imagine billions of transactions funding billions of trees.

We have to do things differently.

That’s why I partnered with Treesisters. Each month through the sales of my paperbacks, sharing my stories and putting them out there, I fund the planting of trees. This doesn’t cost my reader anything other than price of the book. I don’t add the price of the tree donation to the cover price. And, I never will. From the small amount of profit I have once the costs of the print run have been covered, I fund the cost of a sapling being planted in one of Treesisters many global reforestation projects.

I would love The Earth Chronicles to leave a legacy akin to that of Beatrix Potter who through the sales of a beloved books, bought farms and land and secured their safety for generations to come. 4000 acres protected. My dream would be to follow in Ms Potter’s pioneering footsteps, but I’ll say more on that in my next blog.

The truth is, people won’t stop consuming. So, how do we halt climate change in its tracks when we are accelerating climate change through our lifestyle choices? Well, we consume differently. We can adapt and change our behaviours.

Imagine this…

By moving to a circular economy model combined with investment and fast transition to renewable energy, drastically reducing or eradicating our reliance and consumption of animals products, reforesting our planet and protecting indigenous people and land, then we stand a chance. There’s so much more we can do, but the best place to start – the easiest place – is with those towers of carbon capture technology: trees. If we fund reforestation projects whilst lowering our consumption rates which cause deforestation, our species stands a chance. But it requires collective responsibility for how we consume and what we consume if we are to restore the health of the planet and secure our own survival, health and happiness in the process.

It’s a choice. One each of us has to make if we are to stay in the game.

Gaia’s waiting. Your move.

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