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published on 05/23/2007

Our Leafy Friends


Phew!! It was a little scary there for a while when the leaves on so many trees were stunted by the frost. But, once again, as if by magic, the leaves have filled in, replacing bare branches with the soft lush green of summer.

We are so lucky here on Signal Mountain to be surrounded by so many trees. One of the first things that made me fall in love with this community was how it feels when you drive up the mountain and get to the top, and the woods envelop you.

Our lovely leafy friends are also our protectors, a very important part of the natural cycle that allows us to live comfortably in this temperate climate. Leaves soak up the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and release oxygen. Photosynthesis is a bio-chemical process that is key to the health of our planet. It is that natural cycle that scientists say we are disrupting by adding so much extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

I recently gave a presentation of ďThe Climate ProjectĒ at one of our wonderful local schools, and one student asked me what percentage of carbon dioxide is naturally occurring in our atmosphere, and what percentage is produced by us. Well, nature is responsible for a massive 200 billion metric tons of carbon released AND re-absorbed each year. And, when the cycle is balanced, the CO2 levels in the atmosphere remain stable. But humans are now adding nearly 7 billion metric tons of CO2 by burning coal, oil and gas, as well as cutting down forests. More carbon dioxide and fewer trees to absorb it, and the natural cycle is no longer in balance.

So, these days, I look at the lovely trees that surround our house with a new kind of respect. Every bright green leaf is breathing for us, and for our planet. So, what can we do to help them along? Itís all about choices and about finding the ways that you can make a difference. Just as each single tree in our woods is playing its part, each one of us can do our part for them.

Buy recycled paper goods, recycle, buy products with less wasteful packaging, support businesses that donít destroy rainforests. All of these things will help save our trees. And, what the heck, plant a tree with your family. Every little leaf helps!

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