Trees enrich our lives in many ways. Our leafy friends snatch carbon out of the atmosphere and convert the greenhouse gas into oxygen. They also cool our planet.
People are perhaps most familiar with the cooling shade of a tree. But there is another process called evapotranspiration that literally chills the planet out as well.
The process entails water moving from Earth to the atmosphere through evaporation. The cycle can cool a hot summer day by nine degrees, as Popular Science reports.
Trees Need Our Help
So when sitting under some lush foliage contemplating evapotranspiration, think about this: In an urban arboreal study, street trees were found to have an average lifespan of 19 to 28 years. The study highlights the importance of planting new trees, something the Philippines is now putting to a vote.
Legislators in the Philippines recently put forth the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act. It’s a bill that would make planting 10 trees before completing elementary, high school, and college compulsory in the island nation.
The bill prioritizes planting native species on government-owned land. Take for instance the Philippines’ fledgling national tree, Pterocarpus indicus or Narra. The tree has gone extinct in many regions of the country and one of the goals of the legislation is to bring it back nationwide. But while the bill recently passed the Philippine House of Representatives, there is no similar bill in the Senate as of yet.
While the future of the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act is up in the air so to speak, the way it engages students in taking control of their environmental destiny is something the rest of the world should take note of.
In many American cities, for instance, urban canopies are on the decline. Rep. Gary Alejano, co-author of the Philippine bill, said that each student in the Philippines planting 10 trees translates to 175 million new trees per year. Alejano posits that this could result in 525 million trees over the span of a generation.
Think of the Possibilities
According to the United States Census Bureau, over 76 million students—from kindergarten to college undergraduates—enrolled in American schools in 2017. That’s three-quarters of the entire Filipino population. Imagine how many trees would shoot up around the country if something similar to the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act passed in the U.S. Congress.
Young people in the U.S. and all over the world are becoming more and more engaged in addressing climate change and other environmental issues. Groups like the Sunrise Movement and U.S. legislative proposals like the Green New Deal are challenging the status quo when it comes to protecting our most precious resource, the planet itself, in much the same way the Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act is doing in the Philippines.