Fighting climate change naturally! | Pakistan Today

Fighting climate change naturally!

Planting 100m trees could reduce 18m tons of carbon per year, moot told

Federal Minister for Climate Change, Mushahid Ullah Khan, said on Friday that in a country like Pakistan, which is a nuclear state, tackling deforestation and increasing area under trees cannot be described as any serious challenge. However, what is required is will and commitment to the cause of boosting forestry at all level.

“Raising awareness among children about unprecedented significance of trees regarding trees’ health as well as economic benefits, and engaging children in tree plantation campaigns can yield manifold benefits, who would then take it as fruitful activity to properly take care of the trees and knowing that these trees will provide shade during scorching summer months,” said the minister in his keynote address at a spring tree plantation programme held here.  ‘We would have 200 million trees in a matter of single day. But, what was required is will, commitment and fidelity to the very cause of what is say ‘Tree Must for Green Revolution’.

Khan highlighted that educational institutions, particularly teachers, can play their important part to achieve this goal and educate children about the significance of trees in our environment and health and how these can help take natural disasters including floods and landslides, which have shown increased frequency due to climate change.

“By planting and caring for trees, you help improve your surrounding, reduce pollution, lower energy costs, improve the appearance of your community and increase the value of your property. Besides, the trees are also the air-purifiers for planet earth. They clean it, and in doing so produce the oxygen we, and all animals need to survive,” the minister told the participants,” the minister said.

He said that factories, automobiles and fuelwood burning in homes are major source of carbon dioxide and other dangerous gases, which are major cause of global warming. The emission of these harmful gases has increased to a level that these have altered the climate, leading to unpredictable weather patterns and devastating impacts in shape of floods, receding glaciers, shifting weather patterns, erratic/unpredictable rainfall, receding river flows, declining groundwater level, frequent droughts and heat wave incidents and accelerated sea-level rise.

Highlighting importance of keeping the natural environmental balance and intact, the minister told the participants that the earth itself is a “closed system” in that it produces everything it needs to ensure the survival and development of its inhabitants. Within the system, there is a delicate balance that must be maintained. In the page below we will explore one relationship within that balance, the air-purifying plants, man and carbon dioxide. We’ll do so looking at things most of us use everyday as examples of the man’s part in this relationship (as a producer of carbon dioxide).

On average, one acre of new forest can sequester about 2.5 tons of carbon annually. Young trees absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 13 pounds per tree each year. Trees reach their most productive stage of carbon storage at about 10 years at which point they are estimated to absorb 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. At that rate, they release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two human beings. Planting 100 million trees could reduce an estimated 18 million tons of carbon per year and consequently save consumers $4 billion each year on utility bills, the minister said quoting climate experts.

“Therefore, trees help by removing (sequestering) carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis to form carbohydrates that are used in plant structure/function and return oxygen back into the atmosphere as a byproduct. Roughly half of the greenhouse effect is caused by carbon dioxide. Thus, trees act as carbon sinks, decreasing the greenhouse effect,” he stressed.

The minister told the participants further that experts at his ministry of climate change have told him that the entire world is serious about tackling detrimental impacts of climate change and Pakistan is also committed to join these global efforts.

Khan said, “Recently at a two-day high-level training/capacity building programme for forest experts that the present PML(N)-led government will extend all-out support for implementation of the REDD+ mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention  for Climate Change (UNFCCC), under which an aggressive nation-wide tree plantation drive will be initiated across the country with the help of all stakeholders including corporate sector, non-governmental organisations, educational institutions, and indigenous communities.”

Earlier, he appreciated country manager, Syed Zia-ul-Noor of the Muslim Hands International, an international non-governmental organization, and his organization for playing their part in promotion of tree plantation, implementation of different programmes in water, disaster risk reduction, poverty alleviation and livestock sectors in Pakistan.