Joanna Clark, San Juan Capistrano

We are facing two catastrophic threats presently: the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. 

We got off to a slow start with the coronavirus threat, because our president ignored the warnings in his daily briefings.  Because of his lack of leadership, we have become the world leader in the number of citizens infected, more than 1,000,000.  We also lead the world in the number of fatalities, more than 65,000.

The pandemic has served to bring out the worst in us and the best in us.  It has also drawn attention to what we can accomplish in our battle against climate change.

Our stay-at-home lockdown has not only slowed the spread of the coronavirus, but it has also reduced the levels of greenhouse gases by taking cars off the roads.  People in Northern India can see the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years.  Likewise, the air in the Los Angeles basin is the clearest it has been in 30 years. 

There are a number of things we can do to help heal the Earth, once we have the pandemic under control.

We can begin with trees.  On 10 April 1872, 148 years ago, the residents of Nebraska City planted nearly one million trees that day.  Today, the event, now called National Arbor Day, is celebrated annually on the last Friday in April. 

We missed Arbor Day this year because of the pandemic, but how about next year?—Friday, April 30, 2021.  What if we all joined together, as the citizens of Nebraska City did, and planted millions of trees, reforesting our forests that have been decimated by wildfires and clear-cutting, as well as creating new forests on our barren hillsides?  We could plant them to remember the loved ones we lost to the coronavirus and the heroes that risked their lives to care for the sick and dying.

Trees are the lungs of our planet; they breathe in carbon dioxide (CO2) and contaminants from the air and exhale the oxygen that gives us life.  A mature tree, for example, can absorb roughly 48 pounds of CO2 a year, while releasing enough oxygen to sustain two human beings.

What do you think?

About The Author Capo Dispatch

comments (6)

  • I agree fully with Ms. Clark. We can do this and beautify our communities at the same time. You can achieve “Tree City” status by planting more trees in San Juan Capistrano. The Amazon is being decimated by growers planting Palm oil trees not native to the Amazon ecosystem. Planting trees here can help to offset that catastrophe. Think about it.

  • It’s true, the full stop this pandemic has necessitated for the world has shown us that we can deal with a major crisis and make the quality of our life better at the same time. If we plant more trees now we will be locking carbon away for decades and our kids will know a greener world with less air pollution. Making them native trees like the drought tolerant, long lived, enduring Oak would be even smarter.

  • Why do you have to knock at your President,and just where are you going to plant all these trees lol.Its to late to save this valley from all the pollution,people,people and more people is what you will always have..Its only going to get worse from all the cars and the way this town is developing.

    • My remarks regarding Trump, Ronnie, were just a statement of the facts. Our intelligence community made numerous attempts to inform Trump of the pending coronavirus threat, as did Dr. Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), and numerous other virologists, but Trump ignored their warnings; going so far as to fire those who disagreed with his fantasies.

      Trump blamed the press for acting hysterically about the virus, which has now spread throughout China, to Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy, and the U.S, and he downplayed its dangers, saying against expert opinion it was on par with the flu. By undermining the news reporting on the virus and by trying to hold liberals responsible for a potential public health crisis that has little to do with politics, Trump did what he does best: He sought to deflect blame at a time when many Americans sought leadership and scientific facts. He attempted to allay our concerns about the virus by downplaying its seriousness.

      You might take the time to read “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” The first edition included the assessments of 27 psychiatrists. The second edition increased the number of psychiatric assessments to 37.

      The President is supposed to be a leader. I guess you could say he is a great leader; after all, we lead the world in the number of confirmed infections, 1.3 million, and deaths, now more than 80,000. Those numbers would have been considerably lower if he had shown true leadership by acting earlier.

      You make a good point with your “people, people, and more people.” Overpopulation will always present problems. However, the global “stay at home, lockdown” has shown that pollution can be mitigated rather quickly, as demonstrated by the decrease in air pollution over two months.

      Seeing dozens of “then and now” photographs convinced me that trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Studies have shown that in one urban park, tree cover removed 48 pounds of particulates, 9 pounds of nitrogen dioxide, 6 pounds of sulfur dioxide, 0.5 pounds of carbon monoxide, and 100 pounds of carbon – daily.

      The Trillion Tree Campaign is a project of Plant-for-the-Planet to plant a trillion trees, a development and continuation of the activities of the earlier Billion Tree Campaign, instigated by Wangari Maathai, who founded the Green Belt Movement in Africa in 1977. As of November 2019, 13 years since the campaign’s launch, the website The Trillion Tree Campaign registered over 13.6 billion trees planted across 193 countries. In January 2020, President Trump announced the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative launched at the World Economic Forum as world leaders seek to combat climate change.
      We must not stop with trees, however. We need to divest from our reliance on fossil fuels, as well.

      Electric Vehicles (EV) are being promoted as the vehicle of the future by Tesla, Chevrolet, Nissan, Kia, and BMW. I traded my Toyota Prius Prime for a Chevrolet BOLT EV. The downside of the EV is the long charge/recharging times coupled with the lack of an L3 DC Fast Charge infrastructure. A better solution is to adopt the Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), such as the Honda Clarity (300 mi), Hyundai Tucson (265 mi), and Toyota Mirai (312 mi). Why hydrogen? Easy! Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements in the universe. Royal Dutch Shell has recognized this fact, and they are growing a network of hydrogen stations in Europe and North America, where it is part of several initiatives to encourage the adoption of hydrogen in transport.

      Our very own Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA) is leading the way towards a cleaner transit future with the debut of a new hydrogen fueling station, the largest transit-operated hydrogen fueling station in the United States. Included in this venture is the purchase of 10 hydrogen fuel-cell electric buses.

      In Europe, the ‘World’s first’ hydrogen-powered train has entered into serviceH. Built by Alstom, the zero-emission Coradia iLint train can travel at speeds up to 87 miles per hour. These would be a fantastic replacement for our Metro-Link train.

      All of these are doable once people recognize that climate change is a major threat, not just to us, but the entire world.

  • I agree with Ms. Clark that this pandemic has taught us a lot. We can have cleaner air. There are things we can do. Planting trees would be a major step in the right direction. Our Northwest Open Space would be a great place to plant trees, particularly adjacent to the railroad track. It all takes time and money but it is something that we could all participate in as a community coming together.

    While our staying at home has helped to clean up the air it has come as a major cost to our economy and is therefore not sustainable. However, many studies have shown that we can reduce pollution while growing the economy in a sustainable manner. I hope the desire for cleaner air will lead us in that direction as we emerge from this pandemic.

  • As another supporter of forward action based on the lessons we are learning from this current, pandemic, working on solutions with other global leaders in cleaner energy standards as ‘climate-crisis-aware’ citizens is unquestionable. A 3rd potentially catastrophic event we, as Americans also face in regard to Ms Clarks opening sentence of the 2 major ones being Climate & COVID19, is our upcoming election within a DIS-UNITED STATES. During such historical times, we need science based leadership, tracking, and testing without delay or distraction.
    Habitual partisan posturing and gaslighting hurts us all. I prefer to hear the epidemiologists, scientists, biologists, and health care professionals be handed the podium with their insights and facts, rather than a president who points to his head with an index finger as a gesture of “I know it all”., Deceptively, while using the State of the Union address earlier this year to announce our joining the One Trillion Tree Project, he made no mention of Climate Change or Crisis. Instead, he is reversing environmental rules and regulations . Many of these laws took years, even decades to accomplish. According to the NYTimes Climate Forward newsletter published on May 13th, staff has tracked 64 rollbacks at last count, with 34 more in the queue. An insightful quote is from a previous president about action, intention, and doing the right thing for our climate, pandemic, and political standoff. “If the world’s gonna get better, it’s gonna be up to you.”

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