The trees respirateAnthony Nanfito, Haiku Ponderings
Breathing in bad and out good
Earth’s lungs, human’s breath
Pondering This Haiku
When you look at a tree what do you see? Do you see the bark? The branches? The leaves? Or do you see a column of carbon, gathered from the air, and stored in the organism we call a tree. I see all of that of course, but it’s the last interpretation that strikes me the deepest.
These are amazing organisms that spend their entire lives in a single location—collecting water from the ground, carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and radiation from the sun to make the food they need to live. As a byproduct they release oxygen into the atmosphere. A necessity for us humans (and most living creatures on Earth) to survive. Yet, we don’t always appreciate this gift the trees give us.
These organisms—trees—are not just for climbing, reading a book under, plucking fruit from, or chopping down to use their materials. They are literally the storage of carbon from the air—the same carbon in the copious amounts of carbon dioxide we’ve been putting into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution. Meanwhile, we continue to cut down forests around the world and are doing little to ensure the protection and restoration of forests.
As the climate crisis continues to escalate and we are doing our best to prevent carbon dioxide (and other harmful greenhouse gasses) from entering the atmosphere and trying to design ways to capture it, I think we have forgotten the great gift already given to us by nature: trees.
Not only do they provide the clean air we need to breath, but they (quite literally) suck the dangerous greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it in their leaves, trunks, and roots. Some species of trees can live for thousands of years.
This is a huge advantage in fighting the climate crisis because carbon dioxide can take between 300 to 1000 years to breakdown. Which doesn’t seem too bad until you remember that this amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is cumulative and we continue to add more and more.
Imagine what an entire forest of these trees could do to sequester that carbon dioxide? Imagine if we all rushed out to plant trees like we rush out our front doors to grab the packages delivered to our doorstep. Imagine.
With all of this in mind, we not only need to protect our trees, but our entire planet. Earth is our home—it always has been and always will be. We need to take care of it in the same way that it has nurtured us.
That means doing everything we can—both as individuals and nation-states—to reduce our carbon (and other greenhouse gas) emissions, protecting and restoring our natural ecosystems (such as forests), and finding new ways to build a society that is sustainable and equitable for every living creature on this planet—human, tree, or otherwise.
If you’re looking for a way to take action and help, consider celebrating Earth Day on April 22. Since 1970 this has been an annual event to demonstrate support of environmental protection and has grown into a global movement. If you plan to plant any trees, be sure to make sure that they’re native to the local ecosystem and not an invasive species. We want to solve the current problem, not create new ones. (-;
The climate crisis—I fully admit—might seem like an insurmountable task that we’ll never overcome, but if we give up hope then we’ll never even have the chance to overcome it. On my darkest days when I fear there’s no hope in eliminating this crisis and I feel like giving up, I try to think about the descendants who will come after us—who will inherit the Earth we give them just as we inherited the Earth given to us—and how much pride they will have in us (as their ancestors) for accepting the call to action to end this crisis.
It’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s going to take all of us working together—a thought that is difficult to hold when we see so much conflict within humanity around the globe today. However, I think humanity’s capabilities of cooperation and compassion are our superpowers.
It was the cooperation and compassion of our ancestors that has allowed for the construction of the massive civilization and society we now live in. And it is that cooperation and compassion that will bring us forward in overcoming the climate crisis to build a sustainable and equitable world that our descendants will be proud to inhabit and pass on to their descendants.
These are the thoughts I ponder as I read this haiku and walk amongst the columns of carbon. I hope they’ve given you something to ponder and inspiration to take action.
A Question for You to Ponder
What’s something you can do to show Earth you’re grateful for the gift of life it’s given you?
Share your answer in the comments below.
Book Promo for National Poetry Month:
The featured haiku in this post is from my haiku collection, Haiku Ponderings. This collection features over 100 haiku centered around the themes of Mindfulness, Compassion, Gratitude, Love & Loss, and Give & Forgive.
In celebration of (U.S.) National Poetry Month, my collection is discounted for a promotion price of $0.99 from Fri April 1, 2022 to Sat April 30, 2022 on the following retailers. Follow the link below to download your copy today!
If you’re enjoying this blog series celebrating National Poetry Month and want to read the other posts in the series click here.
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