August 20, 2016

If We Had Really Meant Business

 Khin Maung Myint

Currently, we are starting to feel the effects of the severest El Nino in history. The  extreme temperature rises, droughts and shortage of water are rampant around the world. These conditions would prevail and become even more severe in the days to come. Then, in the post El Nino period, the La Nina weather condition would follow and extreme cold weathers are to be expected. All these are related to the climate change caused by excessive emission of greenhouse gases, especially the Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The trees are the best tools to eradicate the CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus more trees should be grown.
Soon, the month of July would be upon us. It is recognized as the best time for tree planting. For many decades, we had been planting trees every July, which had been designated as the “Tree Planting Month”. However, there was no significant or visible improvement in the greening of our country that are worthy of notice or praise as in the case of Bhutan. If only we had really meant business, our country would be alongside Bhutan, which gained the praise at the COP21 conference in Paris for being a carbon negative country and a record holder in tree planting or reforestation. As far as I know, their greening campaigns are conducted many years or decades later than ours’.
In the past, our tree planting ceremonies were celebrated with much pomp and  fanfare. The ceremonies were extravagant with much attention given to publicity. The news of those ceremonies would occupy the front pages of the state-owned newspapers with very impressive photos and the state-run TV stations’ programming slots would be crammed with those news. However, I doubt anyone in the higher echelons would take any interest later, and thus in most cases the trees planted gradually withered away. If only those trees should have flourished, our country would be abreast, if not ahead of Bhutan in the greening process.
It’s not only the state departments concerned that are not taking much interest to get the reforestation campaigns successful, but also some eco-activists and local NGOs too, are no better. Many “green societies” sprung up in recent years, but it is regretful that some such organizations mixed enviromental activities with politics.
They used the tree planting activities to achieve political objectives. Tree planting activities should be for the improvement of the environments only and shouldn’t be used as political platforms.
Here, I would like to once again, highlight the importance of the trees and the need for reforestations, which I had been persistently advocating with my articles. Today, with the global warming, due to the greenhouse effects caused mainly by carbon emissions leading to climate change that is affecting the world, the roles of the trees and forests are becoming more vital in fighting it.
The trees are useful in sequestering the CO2 gases and release the Oxygen back into the atmosphere, a process that helps to harness the global warming and, hence, the climate change. I had, in one of my articles, suggested that we should take the example of Bhutan to grow more trees and conserve the forests. Again I would like to urge our people to take the tree growing and reforestations seriously, because according to the experts our country is highly at risk to the effects of the climate change if it should reach life-threatening levels.
The general public, especially the greedy wealthy businessmen and destitute people in the countryside should be made aware of the consequences of the deforestations. The wealthy businessmen are causing the deforestations by excessive extractions of timbers and the destitute people in the countrysides are destroying the forests by illegally and indiscriminately felling trees for firewood, for making charcoal and timber for their own use or for their livelihoods. Also, the authorities concerned, too, should abandon their old habits and practices of shady dealings and turning blind eyes to such indiscriminate activities.
They should keep in mind that these activities are tantamount to crimes against humanity. I had always expressed concerns about the deforestations, as they are the root causes of flooding, soil erosions, mudslides, silting of rivers and streams, and excessive carbon emissions, which are the main contributors of the global warming and the climate change that would bring about the apocalypse.
At the beginning of this year, we had experienced or witnessed the consequences of the climate change at their worst. Many countries in the Northern hemisphere had been struck with the severest weather conditions in decades or probably in a century. The winter storms that hit the United States of America could be the worst ever in her history, affecting many states across the country and breaking many records that are related to the weather. Many countries in our region too had suffered greatly from the unprecedented record-setting snow, sleet and icy winds, which caused many casatrophic incidents. This should be viewed as a warning of more severe conditions to come, if the climate change couldn’t be reined-in. If this present weather trend should continue to progress without any relent and if it would spiral out of control as some experts had predicted, our world would be headed for doom.
I don’t think it would be necessary for me to go into detail that all these devastations are in one way or another related to the deforestations. Thus in conclusion, I would like to urge our public and the authorities concerned, to take the reforestations and conservations of the forests seriously.
Also the annual public tree planting activities in the month of July shouldn’t be just for publicity stunts and photo shoots or for political or personal gains, as in the past. I don’t mean any offense to any individual or organization, but these are real facts that most would agree with me.
Please allow me to repeat myself. If we had really meant business and if only those trees that we had planted year after year should have flourished, our country would be abreast, if not ahead of Bhutan in the greening process. We should take Bhutan as an example and do some serious tree planting and create a green future for the generations to come. Save Gaia, our Mother Earth !


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