Whether people want to believe in climate change or not, there is no denying the environment has changed noticeably over the last 100 years. The average temperature of the earth has risen 1.53 °F since 1880. The output of carbon and waste product has grown exponentially since then. With more vehicles on the roads and more countries becoming industrialized, the amount of pollution has continued to rise. While there have been some measures taken to try and slow the pollution of our planet, it is not enough. China’s industrialization has been a major cause with ever increasing pollution levels. Some cities in China are so polluted that there is a clearly visible smog. In addition, only 1% of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air that is deemed safe by European Union standards. Even scarier is the fact that if their carbon emissions continue to follow the economic growth they are experiencing, China’s carbon emissions will equal the entire worlds production of CO2 by 2030.
While there are clear problems, and a lot of work that needs to be done to insure the vitality of our planet, even the smallest of changes can have a major impact. One of the easiest things to change is what we do with our waste products. Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the United States alone. The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees! Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year! Simply recycling all of the paper used would make a noticeable effect.
Sadly, some people cannot even make the simple effort to recycle. Out of all the paper that Americans use, only around 29% of it is recycled. Americans throw away 4.5 million tons of office paper each year. That’s enough to build a wall of paper 12 feet high from New York to Los Angeles. Some may argue that the tree was already made into paper so it would be wrong to waste it, and to some degree, they are correct. However, these products are produced based on their global demand. The production of paper alone accounts for 30% of all the trees that are cut down, and because only 29% of paper is recycled, a large amount of virgin fiber is used to produce the paper.
With carbon emissions continuously on the rise, can we really afford to continue to cut down our biggest ally in removing Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere? Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution! The 17 trees saved from recycling can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year.
Trees are clearly our biggest ally fighting the pollution of our planet. We should be doing everything we can to save as many trees as we can. Sadly, over the last 100 years we have cut down nearly HALF the trees on the planet. With every tree saved, we are taking away some of the carbon emissions that cause our planets temperature to rise out of the atmosphere. It is a shame that people have become too lazy to even take the smallest step to try and save our planet.
If everyone makes a small effort to recycle all the paper that is used, we can help combat the rising temperature of our planet. Action needs to be taken quickly if we want to preserve the earth and life as we know it before it becomes too late. If we keep going on our current path, future generations could live in a world where they never knew of trees. Is this the world you want to leave for your children?