A recent report by the University of Washington details the Puget Sound Region’s warmer future under climate change. Rising sea levels, heavier downpours, and hotter, drier summer streams are among the projected changes. And while the news seems dreary, it’s an opportunity to consider how we can better manage our own carbon footprint through carbon sequestration (CS) – methods for containing atmospheric carbon. One approach is the simple act of planting trees.
Robin Jacobs offers some great ideas on where to begin and which trees to plant for maximum carbon absorption in her article 10 Carbon-Storing Trees and How to Plant Them. There are organizations all over the world that encourage communities to get involved with this effort. Woodinville, Washington (along with many other communities in the nation) has a Tree City USA designation for its shade, cooling, and storm water reduction initiatives. These are all great CS efforts.
However, as is true with any mitigation effort, the issue is complex. Planting trees is certainly part of the solution, but not the only solution. Some municipalities are guilty of overzealous efforts that result in overplanting, which ultimately stresses the overplanted trees and makes them more susceptible to disease. Some trees are removed to build amazingly “green” buildings using primarily wood timber, such as the Bullit Building in Seattle, which sequesters carbon for the life of the building. But would the removed trees have stood longer than the structure will remain? These are complex issues.
Yes, keep planting trees. But as a community, let’s also educate ourselves on what we can do to reduce fossil fuel consumption.