Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 17, 2017

Earth Concerns News

Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization: Summary of Chapter 8 by Mickey Kelly, CSJA


Each month, a member of the Home/Land Committee is presenting information from a chapter of the book, PLAN B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, by Lester R. Brown. The following is a summary of Chapter 8: Restoring the Earth.

"Restoring the Earth will take an enormous international effort, one far larger and more demanding than The Marshall Plan that helped rebuild war-torn Europe and Japan." We must undertake this initiative now before environmental deterioration becomes economic decline. The devastation caused by deforestation and the soil erosion that results is exemplified by Haiti where more than 90 percent of the original tree cover is gone. When hurricanes whip through the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the carnage is often more severe for Haiti simply because there are no trees there to stabilize the soil and prevent flooding.
 
Protecting and Restoring Forests
The use of paper, perhaps more than the use of any other single product, reflects the throw-away mentality that evolved during the last century. There is an enormous possibility for reducing paper use simply by replacing paper napkins, paper towels, disposable diapers and paper shopping bags with reusable cloth alternatives. The largest single demand on trees, fuel wood, accounts for over half of all the wood removed from the world's forests. Over the long term, developing alternative-energy sources is the key to reducing forest pressure in developing countries. Replacing fire wood with thermal cookers, powered by wind or solar thermal energy will lighten the load on forests. There are two basic approaches to timber harvesting. The first approach is clear cutting, a practice often preferred by logging companies; clear cutting is environmentally devastating and leads to eroded soil. The second approach is simply to cut only mature trees on a selected basis, leaving the forest intact. This approach ensures that forest productivity may be maintained in perpetuity.
 
Planting Trees to Sequester Carbon
The Plan B goals are to end net deforestation worldwide and to sequester carbon through a variety of tree-planting initiatives and the adoption of improved agricultural land-management practices. Today, because the Earth's forests are shrinking, they are a major source of carbon dioxide. The goal is to expand the Earth's tree cover, growing more trees to secure carbon dioxide. Just as national concerns about effects of continuing deforestation eventually eclipsed local interests, deforestation has become a global challenge. It is no longer just a matter of local flooding. Because it drives climate change, deforestation is a matter of melting mountain glaciers, crop-shrinking heat waves, rising seas and the many other effects of climate change worldwide. Nature has just raised the ante on protecting forests. Planting trees is just one of the many activities that will remove meaningful quantities of carbon from the atmosphere. Improved grazing practices and land-management practices that increase the organic matter content in soil also sequester carbon.
 
The Earth's Restoration Budget
Altogether, restoring the Earth will require additional expenditures of $110 billion per year. Many will ask, "Can the world afford these investments?" However, the only appropriate question is, "Can the world afford the cost of not making these investments?"
 
What Can We Do?
We can take the St. Francis Pledge to care for creation and the poor. Register your pledge at www.catholicclimatecovenant.org.