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Guest opinion by Joanna Clark and Judith Anderson

Featured photo: Courtesy of the South Orange County Chapter of Citizen’s Climate Education and Lobby

In September 2021, dozens of news media outlets began reporting the changing climate was the greatest threat to public health. This was the first time that so many publications came together to issue a joint statement to world leaders, underscoring the severity of our situation.

The editors of more than 230 scientific and medical journals wrote, “Global warming is affecting people’s health—and world leaders need to address the climate crisis now, as it can’t wait until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.”

“The greatest threat to global public health is the continued failure of world leaders to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C and to restore nature,” the journals warned.

We have known for some time that trees absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the atmosphere in exchange. Tree cover in the United States is declining at about 175,000 acres per year. This loss of tree cover contributes to more adverse climate patterns, sea-level rise, and other problems that become catastrophic over time — and that time is now.

According to the journals, “One acre of trees annually consumes the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by driving an average car for 26,000 miles. That same acre of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe for a year.”

As our awareness of the threat an altered climate poses to our future has grown, we have begun to respond by planting trees in the areas we have cleared.

In the Midwest, Iowa’s “The Growing Futures” program has brought together small groups of high school students to receive hands-on instruction in tree planting and maintenance while actively reforesting the communities where they live and learning about careers in forestry.

Hawaii’s “Re-tree Hawaii” program’s goal is to plant sufficient trees throughout the state to increase oxygen levels, absorb greenhouse gases, and reduce sea-level rise. In completing its mission, “Re-tree Hawaii” is partnering with schools and conservation groups throughout the state.

Here in Southern California, our South Orange County Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Education and Lobby is also planting trees in our community this spring.

 On February 14, a Toyon tree was donated by Citizens’ Climate members and planted in Reata Park with assistance from the San Juan Capistrano city staff.  On April 22, Earth Day, and April 29, Arbor Day, tree planting in San Clemente will be sponsored by Citizens’ Climate Education.

Would you like to join our Climate Action group outdoors and be part of a positive community effort?

For more information, please stop by the CCE/CCL table at the San Clemente Garden Club’s Garden Fest at the San Clemente Community Center on Saturday, April 9, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., and meet some local members.

You can also contact Larry Kramer at or Donna Vidrine at

Joanna Clark and Judith Anderson are both members of the South Orange County Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Education and Lobby, and 30-plus year residents of San Juan Capistrano.

Trustworthy, accurate and reliable local news stories are more important now than ever. Support our newsroom by making a contribution and becoming a subscribing member today.

About The Author Capo Dispatch

comments (13)

  • YES!!! This is SO important!! Please help plant trees to offset the climate crisis!!!!!

    Thank you for alerting us to these important events.

  • I totally agree. Planting trees in our communities and in our forests will go a long way toward the global effort to bring down atmospheric level of carbon dioxide. Further, we to do all we can to reduce atmospheric levels of methane and other gases that adversely impact the atmosphere.

    The Working Group II Contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the UN for 2022 says, “Widespread, pervasive impacts to ecosystems, people, settlements, and infrastructure have resulted from observed increases in the frequency and intensity of climate and weather extremes, including hot extremes on land and in the ocean, heavy precipitation events, drought and fire weather (high confidence). Increasingly since AR5, these observed impacts have been attributed 28 to human-induced climate change particularly through increased frequency and severity of extreme events. These include increased heat-related human mortality (medium confidence), warm-water coral bleaching and mortality (high confidence), and increased drought-related tree mortality (high confidence). Observed increases in areas burned by wildfires have been attributed to human-induced climate change in some regions (medium to high confidence). Adverse impacts from tropical cyclones, with related losses and damages 19 , have increased due to sea level rise and the increase in heavy precipitation (medium confidence). Impacts in natural and human systems from slow-onset processes 29 such as ocean acidification, sea level rise or regional decreases in precipitation have also been attributed to human induced climate change (high confidence). {1.3, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.2, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 4.2, 5.2, 5.4, 5.6, 5.12, 7.2, 9.6, 9.7, 9.8, 9.11, 11.3, Box 11.1, Box 11.2, Table 11.9, 12.3, 12.4, 13.3, 13.5, 13.10, 14.2, 14.5, 15.7, 15.8, 16.2, CCP1.2, CCP2.2, Box CCP5.1, CCP7.3, CCB DISASTER, CCB EXTREME, CCB ILLNESS, WGI AR6 SPM.3, WGI AR6 9, WGI AR6 11.3–11.8, SROCC Chapter 4}.”

    Since human activity is the primary source of global climate change, we all bear responsibility to do everything we can as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint.

    Our lack of action will be our legacy future generations (the kids we are bringing into the world right now) will look at and ask us why we did nothing.

  • So glad Clark and Anderson wrote about the tree planting! Good to hear about the South Orange County Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Education and Lobby getting help from San Juan Capistrano city staff too. This is the kind of thing every city that cares about protecting our children’s future should be getting behind. I hope there will be many more trees planted.

  • The right types of trees in the right locations for the right purposes that are sustainable over the long-term (whether from human care or natural processes) and contribute to the natural eco-system and beauty of our area enhance all aspects of our lives. The trees we have today were planted by those who came before us. Let us do more of the same for those who will succeed us. Clark and Anderson are pushing things along here. Bravo!

  • “…changing climate…” is not the greatest threat to public health…that is just bovine ordure. Climate has always changed, will continue to change and while man has a small impact, this impact is dwarfed by natural forces.

    What caused the Roman warming period?

    What caused the Medieval warming period?

    What caused the little ice age?

    Why have the prognostications of climate cultists so often failed miserably?

    Stop the hysteria.

  • Scientists know what caused the Roman warming period, the Medical warming period and the little ice age. Scientists know what is causing climate change/weirding: High levels of green house gases in the atmosphere (mostly carbon dioxide and methane). The “natural” trends would currently tend to cool the earth, but they are being overridden by greenhouse gases.

  • Okay, if scientists know, what is it that caused the Roman warming period, the Medieval warming period, and the little ice age since obviously, no one claims man was responsible for these three major climate changes? GHG levels were at one time, 10x what they are today and that was in the middle of an ice age (not the little ice age). Climate is very complex and involves factors that no one can predict, i.e., cloud cover, solar activity, etc.

    If all of this is as simple as GHGs, then why have climate cultists been so wrong, so often?

    One can check out all of the failures of the climate hysteria crowd at the website, extinctionclock dot org. Let us know what you find.

    • negative effects we are experiencing today began with the arrival of our Industrial Age circa 1750 A.D., 272 years ago. The global population in 1750 is estimated to have been 814 million. Today’s global population is estimated to be 7,953,952,577. In other words, over the past 272 years, our global population has grown by 7.14 billion souls. More than 80% of the energy we use comes from fossil fuel combustion (burning).

      The key factors are time and population growth. When you factor these two into the equation, it is clear that humanity will have a much more significant impact than you predict

  • @ Joanna, I repeat my questions which you failed to answer.

    What caused the Roman and Medieval warming periods when global temperatures were as high or higher than today? Also, those two periods resulted in large population increases and crop yields, i.e., warming is good.

    What caused the little ice age? After the Medieval warming period and its attendant rise in population, population plummeted due to the cold, i.e., cold is bad.

    Help your audience understand what your excuse is for why TODAY’S (and those in the recent past) climate cultists have been so wrong in their predictions. Are you saying they are unaware of the current population rise?

    Feel free to list those climate experts who would stake their reputations on the notion that man has had a significant effect on climate prior to the 20th century.

  • David, in your first rebuttal on April 20, 2022, you asked what caused the Roman warming period, the Medieval warming period, and the Little ice age.

    First, let me say that none of the cold and warm epochs from the past 2,000 years were global events, but the current period of climate change is more intense and is happening simultaneously across the entire planet.

    The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) are the best-known temperature fluctuations in the last millennium.

    The Medieval warming period occurred roughly from 950 to 1250 A.D., during the European Middle Ages. “During this period, temperatures rose a few degrees above average. That warming has been connected to improved crop yields in parts of Europe and the temporary Viking occupation of Greenland.”

    Possible causes of the Medieval Warm Period include increased solar activity, decreased volcanic activity, and changes in ocean circulation.

    The Little ice age lasted roughly 1300 to 1850 A.D. During the following Little Ice Age, the Greenland Vikings disappeared, glaciers from California to the European Alps advanced, and New York harbor froze, enabling people to walk from Manhattan to New Jersey without the benefit of the George Washington Bridge.

    Several causes have been proposed: cyclical lows in solar radiation, heightened volcanic activity, changes in the ocean circulation, variations in Earth’s orbit and axial tilt (orbital forcing), inherent variability in global climate, and decreases in the human population (such as from the Black Death and the epidemics emerging in the Americas upon European contact.

    The Roman Warm Period or Roman Climatic Optimum, an unusually-warm weather period that ran from approximately 250 BC to 400 AD in Europe and the North Atlantic areas, was most likely due to a Milankovitch Cycle. There are three Milankovitch cycles that impact global climate; orbital eccentricity, obliquity, and precession.

    David, you are correct when you say “Climate has always changed,” and it “will continue to change ….” In comparing “man has a small impact … dwarfed by natural forces,” you overlook time and population growth.

    There have been five significant extinctions since life established itself on Earth. The Permian-Triassic extinction event, also known as the End-Permian Extinction and colloquially as the Great Dying, was characterized by the elimination of over 95 percent of marine and 70 percent of terrestrial species.

    According to Wikipedia, “[t]he scientific consensus is that the causes of extinction were elevated temperatures and widespread oceanic anoxia and ocean acidification due to the large amounts of carbon dioxide emitted by the eruption of the Siberian Traps. The scientific evidence indicates the Permian-Triassic extinction event occurred over 15 million years during the latter part of the Permian Period (299 million to 252 million years ago.

    The negative effects we are experiencing today began with the arrival of our Industrial Age circa 1750 A.D., 272 years ago. The global population in 1750 is estimated to have been 814 million. Today’s global population is estimated to be 7,953,952,577. In other words, over the past 272 years, our global population has grown by 7.14 billion souls. More than 80% of the energy we use comes from fossil fuel combustion (burning).

    The key factors are time and population growth. When you factor these two into the equation, humanity will have a much more significant impact than you predict.

    Current global warming is due to our love affair with burning fossil fuels. In 1750, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were about 280 parts per million (ppm). The data shows that carbon dioxide had averaged about 280 ppm for the 800,000 years before 1750 AD. In 1960, atmospheric carbon dioxide had risen to about 318 ppm, and it has continued to rise. On April 22, 2022, it reached 419.13 ppm, and it will continue to rise unless we drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

    • The Medieval warming period and the Little Ice Age (LIA) were definitely global events. Climate historian, Brian Fagan, documents this in his work, The Little Ice Age, as does other historians such as Barbara Tuchman, Jared Diamond, and David Hackett Fischer. This used to be non controversial until climate alarmists needed these events to be local to support their narrative.

      During the LIA, glacial advance destroyed towns and villages and regularly froze rivers in England and France (Thames and Seine) as well as the canals of the Netherlands. These had been ice free before and after the LIA. In 1658, a Swedish army marched across the ice to attack Copenhagen.

      In North America, glaciers in Glacier NP advanced until the late 18th century and early European explorers reported that (1607/8) Lake Superior didn’t become ice free until June. You yourself acknowledge that New York harbor froze.

      Examinations of a peat bogs in South America indicate that the most extreme climate episodes of the LIA were experienced in the southern hemisphere and that they were synchronous in Europe and South America. Ice cores in the Andes, tree ring data from Patagonia, and the reports from Spanish explorers about the expansion of the San Rafael glacier in Chile (continued until the 19th century) confirm this.

      In addition, sediment cores in Lake Malawi (Southern Africa) as well as stalagmite growth in caves indicate cooling there during the LIA. 

      A comparison of ice cores in West Antarctica with those in Greenland indicate the LIA effected our southern most continent at the same time (LIA).
      The Franz Joseph and Mueller glaciers in New Zealand advanced to their maximum extent (early 1700s) during the LIA.

      You suggest as a “possible” cause for the LIA, lower solar radiation and increased volcanic activity. Think, do these, as well as the other “suggestions” for causes you list, only effect part of the planet? One of the volcanic eruptions given as a possible cause was one in 1257…in Indonesia! So an eruption in Indonesia changes climate in Northern Europe but not in East Asia?

      Like other alarmists, you continually contradict yourself. While attempting to frighten people, you acknowledge that the Medieval warming period saw increased crop outputs and temporary occupation of Greenland by the Vikings and note that population has exploded…while we’re warming up! You claim the Roman warm period was due to a “Milankovitch” cycle and then admit this is natural.

      You never answered how or why it was that during an ice age of the distant past, CO2 levels were 10X higher.

      Joanna, in your article you state that, “Tree cover in the United States is declining at about 175,000 acres per year.” That is FALSE. Your source, the US Forest Service, says that is the amount that is reduced ONLY in “urban/community” areas, not the entire United States. In fact, the US is more forested today than it was 100 years ago though the difference isn’t great. Forest cover in America has remained relatively stable for the past 50 years, contrary to your narrative.

      I haven’t even begun to retell all of the false prognostications climate alarmists have put forth or the doctoring of data and dishonest attacks on climate experts who present data embarrassing to the climate change dogma. Climate is an enormously complicated phenomenon that alarmists wish to boil down to CO2 rise, a real but minor contributor to overall climate.

      Yours is a narrative in search of evidence to support it and facile explanations to explain away inconvenient data. For the dispassionate, I recommend a book by Michael Shellenberger who was awarded “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine. It is called, “Apocalypse Never, Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All”.

  • Dear Dave,
    While this back and forth paleoclimatology discussion between yourself and Joanna, which both of you agree existed with climate-changing fluctuations existing as well, I see no mention, by yourself, or even acknowledgment of the single factor which burst the entire equation. Namely, the advent of the Industrial age’s burning of fossil fuels for the anthropogenic increase in energy needs near the ending of the Little Ice Age.
    The easy-to-comprehend illustrative graph of the hockey stick, depicting changes in Earth’s temperature back to A.D. 1000, constructed by IPCC scientists and featured in the high profile “Summary for Policy Makers” within their 2001 report, put this critical issue in our faces, and on our thermometers.
    Since you asked for names of researchers to back up such (denied or misunderstood?) data, let me suggest two authors and their two books who answer specific questions.
    1. Michael Mann, geologist, geophysicist, and an IPCC scientific contributor for decades, and his insightful The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Incredibly entertaining and informative is Chapter 14, titled Climategate.
    2. Dr. Shahir Masri, air pollution scientist from UCI and author of a helpful book, Beyond Debate: Answers to 50 Misconceptions on Climate Change.

    Judith Anderson
    To note: Judith Anderson, the co-author of the guest opinion submittal titled Trees and the Climate Emergency, is a member of the South Orange County Chapter of Citizens Climate Education/Citizens Climate Lobby.
    A polite reminder to Dave; I am also one of your fellow historical walking tour guides of the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society’s Los Rios street tours. I continually enjoy your personal stories shared with our attendees when strolling past your lovely house!

  • Yes, the Michael Mann hockey stick is easy to comprehend, it is also complete BS. It denies there was a Medieval warming period, denies there was a little ice age, and he doctored his data to fit the narrative he knew the IPCC would love.

    If changing climate was demonstrated to be non threatening, there would be no reason for the IPCC to exist. Hence, why they only entertain data, even if doctored, that comports with their continued existence.

    Try reading “A Disgrace To the Profession, The World’s Scientists ‘in their own words’ On Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick, And Their Damage To Science”. In there you’ll find 5 pages of names of scientists who absolutely shred Michael E Mann’s bogus “hockey stick”. I’d provide quotes but there are hundreds to choose from. Going to you tube and viewing “The Climate Discussion Nexus” with John Robson and in particular, the episode entitled, “Hide the Decline”, you will see the emails where Mann and Jones (fellow climate alarmist) discuss doctoring the data so as to present the alarmist view, an incident that became known as Climate Gate. This incident is what drove fellow climate alarmist, Judith Curry, out of the alarmist camp.

    Judith, it is illustrative that you fail to recognize inconsistencies in your own statements. You claim that the Industrial Age (end of the LIA, circa, 1750) began the rise in CO2 but the “hockey stick” you uncritically accept doesn’t show rising temperature until the 20th century. You seem to acknowledge that there was a LIA yet none is shown in the “hockey stick” nor is there room for any Medieval warming period on that phony “hockey stick”.

    Contrary to your assertion, I did mention CO2. This is what I said, “Climate is an enormously complicated phenomenon that alarmists wish to boil down to CO2 rise, a real but minor contributor to overall climate.”

    Unlike ALL the non professional climate alarmists I’ve met, I am willing to listen to and to dispassionately weigh the evidence for the alarmist view of climate change. As I once told Joanna, I listened to an entire course from the alarmist perspective by a Professor Richard Wolfson produced by the Teaching Company. While I found his arguments wholly unconvincing from an alarmist view point (his evidence was convincing that the earth has warmed in the last 50 years), I still would highly recommend the course.

    If one never seriously listens to arguments against the alarmist viewpoint (by professional climate scientists), then you will have done yourself a disservice. Science is about weighing evidence, not just uncritically accepting the views pushed by zealots, politicians, and those who control the levers of academia.

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