Speaking for nature

Protecting the earth around us

By Elizabeth Casella, Managing Editor

Sad image showing the increase in deforestation

Cutting down trees destroys the many benefits to the Earth. (Image from istockphoto.com)

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues,” Dr. Seuss wrote in “The Lorax.” This is a story written in 1971 discussing the plight of the environment and the need to protect it against destruction. Forty-six years later, this story seems more important than ever with the ever changing environment around us being brought to its knees through human growth and destruction.

This is not just another rant about how the environment needs more protection and we will all die due to climate change. This is to address an issue closer to home, literally. A topic that is not traditionally discussed is the cutting down of trees and gardens within backyards and neighborhoods. Many houses are built on land that the agriculture was destroyed to get down to the foundations, and then it is reborn with new grass, gardens and trees that are left for years to come. These trees have a purpose.

Without trees, humans actually could not breathe clean air. Trees remove pollution from the air, improving human health and air quality. According to the National Arbor Foundation, global forests remove about one-third of fossil fuel emissions annually. In addition to this, one large tree can provide a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people, and trees lower surface and air temperatures by providing shade. This shade can be 20 to 45 degrees cooler than the peak tempereature of unshaded areas. Other benefits of trees are they help to save energy, benefit wildlife, reduce crime, increase property value, and are a good investment.

Cutting down trees in neighborhoods (in particular on property lines) is especially not right. There are multiple reasons why, some listed above, but others being that these trees do not just affect one’s own yard. With neighbors in close proximity, these massive trees have an affect on their yard too, such as shade and temperature control, as well as oxygen control.

Many cut down trees on the property lines to build property fences or close off their yard by building decks, expansions or other infrastructures, and do it without consulting neighbors. This can anger many and at times can be plain rude.

The house next to mine in my neighborhood was recently put up for sale and had all of the trees on the property, about four perfectly healthy over a hundred-year-old giant trees, chopped completely and the stumps grinded down. This was tragic to see.

One of the trees that was on the side of the house facing my yard covered over half of my yard with shade, mostly the deck area and the living room. It made the house exponentially cooler, keeping the air conditioning bill down as well as the sun out of the direct view of my house. I thoroughly enjoyed this tree. Now that it is gone, the house has been hotter as well as a canopy had to be purchased for the deck and other expenses to improve the yard, such as watering the grass more because of direct sun exposure.

There are three other neighbors’ yards now affected as well. This is tragic that now the entire property values of their houses have dropped and those surrounding as well. The entire neighborhood was specifically built to have trees on the property line to prevent fences and other structures from being built to preserve the nature. If the trees were dead, diseased, or causing harm, then it is acceptable to remove them. Killing off nature to only benefit one’s own selfish needs is abominable.

There are reasons to build, but when you have no animals, never have had a problem with the neighbors, or noise/privacy, whatsoever, then it is a hard option to defend. This plight of nature on a global scale is already a problem that is causing global changes.

To have this problem in a local scale only contributes to this problem and the overall climate change as a whole. Sometimes it is more important to put the need of future generations and mother earth before one’s own personal wants for luxury.

In the words of the Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

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