Most cities in the US especially those in the North of the country continue to face complex environmental and development challenges. The rise in population of most of most countries in the world is harming both biological and natural resources.
The state of the world’s natural resource base is rapidly changing to become unproductive from what it used to be. The top productive soil is being carried by water and wind power and in the process is becoming weak and unproductive due to poor land management practices such as cutting down trees and overstocking.
The only solution left in the protection of the natural environment include; instituting, preserving and developing areas of conservation that will aim at preserving the natural diversity. This will only be possible if policies and legislation governing environmental and natural resources are put in place. The only earth’s natural resources remain in the areas that are reserved though they continue to shrink and lose their natural ecological perspective.
Susan page reported in the ‘US Today’ that in Washington – Pollution and other environmental problems have been shown as the major cause of the threat the world is facing, America especially the United States is to blame for these problems and should be responsible to respond to them (1). Forest cover in parts of US has reduced drastically due to the timber industry and development. Rising seas, longer and more intense heat, increasing storms and cyclones and forest fires are reported almost everyday in the US.
North America is acutely sensitive to water issues. Several states have lost as much as 25% of water resources from their lakes. The Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC), reports that water resources in the North are used heavily by industries, in agriculture, for domestic use and for hydro electric power (UNEP 1).
The state of ground water is poor and rainfall patterns are changing and becoming more erratic due to climate change. Locally, various water bodies like the Lakes and rivers have dried up due to interference with water catchment areas.
There has been reports of drop by up to 35% in the Edwards Aquifer in Texas while the water flow in Colorado and Columbia rivers is dwindling (UNEP 1). In this UNEP report, Mr. Achim Steiner who is the UNEP director laments that though the US and Canada have strong economic power, the impacts of this problem continue to face them just like the rest of the world.
In an interview over the phone with Mr. Raven who is plant biologist and a specialist in the field of forestry. Professor Raven is the manager of the Kew Botanical Garden and a Professor at one University in US .He revealed what many people take for granted.
He says that the world’s biodiversity is slowly being lost and that in 40 years time, most species that we see today will have been reduced by a half. He attributed this loss to the destruction of their natural homes. He cited that the effects of forest destruction on local climate were more serious than generally thought (World book par 4). Mr. Raven said that humans were destroying the habitats of plants and animals across the globe.
According to him, the world has no any unoccupied frontier left, every single inch of the earths surface is influenced by man’s activities and this is most clearly in tropical rain forests which contain an enormous diversity of life.
The world’s majority species liv in forests and if the trend of destroying their habitat continues, the future generations might not have anything for them left to see. He cites that the population in many of the states is growing so fast that people exploit the resources of the forest for settlement.
Today people are cutting down trees so fast that the impacts are felt almost immediately. Forests are known to regulate the world’s weather when they absorb rainfall; they also create rainfall and acts as a sink for green house gases. It has also been shown that forests absorb heat than do soils without vegetation. Mr. Raven also touched on the role of community based programs minimizing loss of forest cover.
He said that women groups and other stakeholders in the environmental sector should work to disseminate vital information on research findings, lessons, experiences and ideas regarding climate change and environmental conservation among researchers, educators, policy makers, and students.
They should also develop policy guidelines regarding research, innovation, development, and industrialization tailored towards curbing forest degradation. Community based groups could inspire and motivate crop of young people who understand environmental issues and are willing to take a leading role in conserving the environment.
An article posted on the web by Dr. Young show that most of the rain forests lie across the equator. Rain forests act as carbon sinks when they take up carbon released into the atmosphere by plants and give out oxygen which is utilized by plants.
There is usually high water level in the air and usually forested areas receive much rainfall than bare ground. it can be seen that cutting down trees will result into failure of absorption of CO2 will in turn cause a heating up of the earths atmosphere causing global warming (Young par1)
Research has shown that cutting down trees is reducing the leaf surface available for evaporation and consequently the amount of rainfall.
The ground is rapidly drying up and plant life can no longer be supported. solar energy absorption is also being hampered because plants are shown to absorb shortwave bands of light which bare ground doesn’t. As a result, the waves are being reflected back causing reduced heat retention of the earth surface thus under cooling. The amount of rain received in different places on earth has been shown to be reducing.
Forests covered about 40 percent of the earth’s surface in 1940’s but has been reduced by indiscriminate clearing of forests to a mere 7%.
Community based forestry has the power to improve forest supervision in the common land. Unfortunately, the effortlessness with which interests of the logging business are able to disregard community decisions and illegally harvest timber remains disturbing. Illegal logging is highly destructive to community unity and institutions. Logging operations have compound implications with common property directors. Confrontation and complicity are apparent in the fight to protect forests.
An individual American citizen may wonder what role to play in the mitigation plan. In our own state, loggers continue to rape our forests as we watch. They cut trees without caring the consequences. A primary role of every like minded citizen of this great country, various stakeholders in the environmental sector such as government agencies, private institutions, NGOs, policy-makers and students from various institutions of higher learning across the state, should, without limitation;
i. Create awareness on the how forest destruction cause climate change and environmental degradation.
ii. Discuss, share and understand the various effects of climate change and environmental degradation particularly in our state
iii. Evaluate and assess the impacts of forest destruction on various sectors of the economy e.g. agriculture, natural and biological resources, energy, water and health countrywide.
iv. Share new research findings, lessons, experiences and ideas concerning trees and their role in climate change mitigation thus help influence decisions.
v. Explore new opportunities and strengthen existing partnerships in research, education, training and development across our state and in the US at large
vi. Model a crop of young people who understand environmental issues and inspire them to take a leading role in environmental conservation.
vii. Review critical issues about water and water systems and the connection with forest cover.
viii. Identify strategies of adapting to or mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.
When many plants transpire, moisture is returned into the atmosphere in the process raising the relative humidity. Later when this moisture condenses rainfall is formed. Moisture also tend to lower the temperature of the surrounding air thus having a cooling effect. This cooling effect modifies the local climate (Mastrantonio and Francis par3).
In addition, forests refill the air by using co2 and giving off o2. Forests are also known to regulate the flow of rivers, slow the speed of raindrops and acts as water catchment areas. Cutting down trees causes faster run off thus causing soil erosion. Forests are also used for fuel wood and for herbal plants. The forest has also been shown to be a home to many millions of indigenous people
Every single American citizen should familiarize him/herself with the environmental issues. To lead an informed life, every citizen should strive to understand global ecology. Each one of us should make good decisions for oneself, your company, or your family. People should learn about the environment because this knowledge will inspire them to take necessary steps when confronted by an environmental issue.
Mastrantonio, J. Louise and Francis K. John. “A Student Guide to Tropical Forest Conservation.” USDA Forest Service International Programs, 2000. 1st Nov. 2010.
Page, Susan. “Poll: climate problem the biggest threat.” USA today. 2007. 1st Nov. 2010. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/environment/2007-06-27-climate-poll_N.htm
UNEP. “Climate Proofing North American Cities and Communities Key Challenge for 21st Century.” United Nations Environment Programme, 2007. 1st Nov. 2010. http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?ArticleID=5553&DocumentID=504&l=en
World book. “Interview with Peter Raven.” World Book , 1999. 1st Nov. 2010. http://www.well.com/~davidu/raven.html
Young, Donald. “How might rain forest destruction affect our weather?” Eden Communications, 2010. 1st Nov. 2010. http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/ednks008.html