Tree Angels for Haiti just celebrated our six year anniversary! We are tremendously thankful for all the support we have received and all the progress we have been making. We expect great things as we work to empower Haitian communities and we are optimistic about the future!
One reason for our optimism is Jasmine, a 12-year old TAFH supporter and future environmental ambassador. Jasmine was inspired to contribute our latest blog on the effects of trees on climate change.
You may have heard of climate change and you know that the world is getting hotter and the icecaps are melting… but did you know that trees play a major role in the temperature levels?
Deforestation (or the act of cutting down trees) is the #2 contributor of Global warming. In fact, if there were no trees, the world would be 12˚F warmer. Don’t think that’s a lot? Well that’s enough for sea levels to reach cities like Washington D.C., Philadelphia, NYC and engulf all of Florida!
But why does deforestation regulate the temperature so much? In the atmosphere, there are lots of gases which absorb solar radiation. These gases are important for keeping the air warm at night. When there are too many of these gases, then more warm air is trapped. An example of these greenhouse gases is carbon dioxide (CO2). When humans burn fossil fuels, we’re adding more CO2 into the atmosphere, which is making the world warmer. Trees absorb 300 billion tons of CO2. When the trees are gone, all the stored carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.
Deforestation is a huge problem. Every minute, 36 football fields of trees are lost. The causes are for our everyday conveniences including houses, commercial items and food. Yes, food. In fact, the need for agriculture fields is the leading cause of deforestation. Farmland depletes the forests, and when the soil is no longer suitable for growing, developers move on to clear another area. You may not notice deforestation around you, but every time you see a new building in construction, think of all those trees that have been cleared.
Trees can also improve the air quality. When they absorb CO2, trees also absorb the many contaminant– deadly carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. An obvious, and under-appreciated, benefit of trees is that they provide shade. Shade provides an overall temperature decrease in the area. With more trees, there is more shade and it is cooler. Picture this: you’re walking down a sidewalk and it’s a hot summer day. Wouldn’t you rather have trees cooling you down along the way? Simple things, but we take them for granted. Tree branches full of leaves can be “Giant Green Fans.” When the wind blows, and their branches sway from side to side, the trees replicate a multitude of hand fans.
All these amazing facts about trees can help create more awareness and help people understand why it’s so important to plant trees. In a place like Haiti, where the majority of the land is bare, the impact is even more significant. Planting one tree would not solve much, but joining a reforestation effort can help us plant thousands of trees and will make a difference. Through volunteering you can help restore ecosystems, rebuild wildlife habitats and yes, decrease global warming.
Tree Angels for Haiti is doing just that. We are a group of environmentally conscious volunteers who took notice and realized that Haiti’s case is of utmost importance. Although there are not too many studies focusing on Haiti’s deforestation and the impact on its weather system, we know that there are variations in weather based on geographical features as well as the lack of trees and foliage. The Republic of Haiti, occupying the western third of Hispaniola, an island it shares with the Dominican Republic, is primarily tropical but the regions where there are fewer trees can be semiarid and almost desert like.
To learn more about our reforestation efforts and how you may help decrease the effects of climate change, please contact any Tree Angels for Haiti volunteer.