Engineering Challenge for Humanity
What if somebody gave you an engineering challenge that went like this: Design something that sequesters carbon, produces oxygen, provides habitats for billions of organisms of several thousands of species, creates microclimates, prevents erosion, creates fertile loamy soil, provides shade, transpires hundreds of gallons of water vapor every day, holds water in the soil, changes colors with the seasons, and can be turned into a durable, useful, and beautiful product when its active life is over? Pretty challenging project, right? Well, we already have them-it’s trees! Trees, and proper forest management, including urban forestry, offer us the best hope of reversing climate change, which, without a doubt, is the greatest threat that humans, and all plants and animals on our fragile blue planet, have ever faced!
Recently, in mid-2017, a new book has come out that details how we are currently reversing climate change. “Drawdown” is the book’s title, and drawdown refers to the point in time when we reach a peak in belching greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and, then, the manifold processes that sequester from the air exceed that, creating a net reversal of greenhouse gas emission. The book is edited by renowned environmentalist/activist Paul Hawken, and is a compilation of the 100 most effective methodologies for sequestering, or sucking back in, greenhouse gases, primarily CO2, back into the earth. Over 200 scientists have contributed to this project, which includes everything from educating young girls, utilizing solar energy technologies, wind energy, proper handling of refrigerants, and, perhaps most importantly, how we manage our forests. Our tree canopy is critical for producing oxygen, sequestering CO2, helping create microclimates, maintaining moisture, and detoxifying pollution. The book details how we CAN speed up these processes, and currently, estimates that Drawdown will occur sometime between 2035 and 2045. Proper management of land, and especially forests, is crucial.
We, at Treecycle America, are Redefining Urban Forestry. Right now, every day in Charlotte, NC, 200,000 lbs of urban logs are underutilized. We are taking some of those logs and turning them into premium certified lumber, which creates jobs locally, GDP locally, decreases pollution and fossil fuel use, upcycles local product, and creates a cache for local finished products. Upcycling is infinitely superior to recycling, because in recycling, the vast majority of the time all of the recycled items are really downcycling to one terminal use, such as a park bench or curbstone, and that’s it. UPcycling refers to virtually infinite re-uses for a product, and if products are designed with re-use in mind, really, everything changes.
Dr, Steve English