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Nobel Laureate: It is the People Who Must Stand Up For the Environment, Make Their Leaders Change

2011/07/22

Fridays are the days I usually focus on good news. I think the best news around these days is that Rupert Murdoch and his right-wing, democracy-corrupting News International is finally being subjected to the harsh light of public and criminal investigation. Apparently last week, Murdoch’s media empire lost seven billion dollars worth of value in one day. Now that’s good news!

In another good news story, it turns out that forests play an even larger role in the Earth’s climate system than previously suspected.  According to a new study published in Science last week, this raises more concern about the risks from deforestation but also holds out hope for the potential gains from regrowth.

Werner Kurz, a scientist with Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service who co-authored the paper, said the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by forests is “good news” and reinforces what scientists had previously estimated — that forests are the biggest carbon sinks among land ecosystems.

“Right now, forests are helping,” he said, “but whether or not they will continue to help in the future will depend on the effect of human activities and climate change on the forest.” Read the full article on CBC.ca.

So if we buckle down and seriously address the issues of deforestation and reforestation across the globe – in the Amazon as well as in my backyard, the boreal forest – this could be a huge step towards stabilizing the world’s climate system. And who better to get inspiration from when talking about planting trees to heal the earth, than Wangari Maathai? Ms. Maathai is the Kenyan woman who started the Green Belt Movement which taught the women in her country how to plant trees, and who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work. Since 1977, GBM communities have planted over 45 million trees in Kenya to increase national forest cover and restore essential ecosystems. Here are some clips from Taking Root, a documentary by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater which tells Maathai’s story, “whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights, and defend democracy—a movement for which this charismatic woman became an iconic inspiration.

Here’s a quote from Wangari Maathai to take into the weekend with you:

“It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make their leaders change. And we cannot be intimidated. So we must stand up for what we believe in.” 

More links:

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

The Green Belt Movement

Climate Change 2: Forests Soak Up Third of Fossil Fuel Emissions: “Science” Study

CBC.ca: Forests Absorb A Third of World’s CO2 Emissions

 

 

 

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