Earth Week offered Lehigh Valley residents the opportunity to hear two environmental experts speak, Dr. George Woodwell from the Woods Hole Research Center, and Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.
I was fortunate to hear both.
Their work, research and message emphasize the same thing: we all need to do something to lessen the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.
For so many, that seems like a daunting task. Most of us are everyday people with jobs, families and a multitude of other responsibilities.
Isn’t a problem like this better left to the scientists? What can we do?
I believe we all have a role to play in reversing the carbon numbers.
Here are a few things you can do.
Trees, we’ve all heard this before. Planting trees will help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Do some research before you buy and plant. Is it a native tree? Will it grow too big for the space you have available? When that happens, most people want to have their trees topped.
Don’t do it. Why not? You’ve removed the structural branches with the leaves that help clean the air and the tree will struggle to stay alive. It will send out many weak branches quickly to try and compensate for the loss. The tree is weaker and less healthy.
Let’s suppose you’ve chosen the right tree for your space. Will the tree shade the south or west side of your home to help cool it in the summer, and when it’s leaves fall, warm that area of your home in the winter?
If so, you now have the benefits of passive cooling and solar heat gain. (You probably thought all solar was too expensive.)
Planting evergreen trees near your home can help block the cold northwest winds in winter.
Your home will now be warmer and the evergreen will provide coolness in the summer.
By planting a tree, you’ve reduced carbon in the air and reduced the amount of fossil fuel you need to heat and cool your home. That’s a win-win.
To be sure, we will all need to do more and this is just one simple example.
What else can you come up with? There are 365 days in one year. If we all did one earth friendly action each day, imagine the difference we can all make.
Editor’s note: Marie North of South Whitehall Township, is a certified sustainable building advisor.