Why US Cities are Losing 36 Million Trees a Year

By ABBI MITCHELL

When the trees die, we will go with them

We rely on trees and most plants to survive. They provide shade when its hot, they give kids a nature made jungle gym, and they give us the oxygen we need to survive. When we breathe out carbon dioxide, they breathe it in and exhale our much needed oxygen. It is an ongoing cycle that is now in jeopardy. 

A study published by the US Forest Service last year found that we lose 36 million trees every year due to severe heat waves and more climate change. Trees can lower daytime temperatures by ten degrees fahrenheit. David Nowak a senior US Forest Service scientist says, “there are many reasons our tree canopy is declining, including hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, insects and disease. But the one reason for tree loss that humans can control is sensible development”. We build so much out of wood and waste so much paper in schools and businesses everyday. If we planted a tree every time we chopped one down, we could reduce the amount of pollution in the air, filter our water, reduce floods, protect ourselves from UV radiation, and protect our wildlife who lives and depends on the trees. 

Warmer temperatures translate to a longer growing season. This produces larger trees with less wood density and a lower capacity to absorb and store carbon dioxide. Our trees are responsible for removing more than 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the global atmosphere. A decline in their capacity is noteworthy and extremely alarming. During a drought, trees will go into a state of conservation where they stop their carbon dioxide absorption, which means dramatically reducing photosynthesis and the production of nutrients for the tree. While many trees species have evolved to withstand drought, their decline and eventual death are beginning to become real as periods of drought become more frequent and extended. We desperately need our trees in order to survive and if we don’t do something soon we won’t have any oxygen left to breathe. 

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