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Earth and human challenges

Earth’s problems occur in the living world, natural resources, land and water use, energy resources and consumption, and pollution.

Humans add to global warming and global change – cutting down trees, covering earth with buildings and roads so plants don’t grow, burning fossil fuels which increase carbon dioxide and other gases, all increasing Earth’s temperature.
We see the results of warming – hotter seasons, devastating weather events, species extinction, ice caps melting, and lakes drying out…

It can make you feel frustrated and powerless.

But putting plants in your daily life in some way can help.

Plants take in carbon dioxide, release oxygen in photosynthesis, anchor soil, shade the environment, make beautiful green spaces, make habitat for animals, feed us, house us, reduce flooding, protect ecosystems and provide energy.

Planting, conserving and protecting plants are answers to Earth’s environmental challenges. Personal daily actions can conserve and protect plants. Green plant action can happen in your house, workplace, yard, in the community, and globally.

Plant solutions for sustainability can be on your own, with schools, local government and initiatives, or with activist organizations.

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Global policy is huge. But the big view to solving problems is a good way to start.

Here’s the Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World

Plants are the Answer in the
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Ambitious, thoughtful, inclusive and action-oriented, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals nail down Earth and humanity’s challenges.

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6 of the 17 "Goals to Transform Our World"
include Plants as an Answer.

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Whatever you ate today was a plant, or eaten by an animal that ate a plant.

Plants grow on land – how can we feed everyone and make plant growth sustainable?

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Worldwide, people depend on plants for energy whether they come from fossil fuels or biomass.

How can fuels be used more sustainably?

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How land is used where we live includes plant's greenspace as infrastructure.

Tree lined streets have a lower incidence of crime.

Plants can be solutions to people places.

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Plants are natural resources for the food we eat, the goods we use and the energy we need.

Sustainable management of all resources includes plants.

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Plants are part of the big picture on climate action in a warming world.

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Trees are plants,
trees make forests,
and forest health impacts life and soil on Earth.

See the Forests, and Save the Trees

Paper is made from trees. The fewer trees that are cut down and milled into paper, the better, as these large photosynthesizing plants work as a carbon sink for the excess carbon dioxide that’s warming our atmosphere.

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Recycle paper

Chopping down trees to make new paper isn't sustainable since trees grow slowly.

Consider – manufacturing paper from existing paper saves trees, energy and water. And paper thrown away in landfills breaks down into methane, another carbon-based warming greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

Quick solutions to increase paper recycling:

  • Check your local community to see what’s available and expected for paper recycling.

  • Put recycling bins next to trash as reminders

Conserve paper:

  • Print double sided copies

  • Read electronic text

  • Repurpose junk paper

The World Wildlife Foundation has tips on paper conservation from around the world.

Plant trees, and don’t cut them down

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Trees are big plants that do big things.

Shade, fruit, wood, animal homes, landscape, history, play, art, symbols, fuel...
trees do it all.

The natural gifts of trees are the same as all plants, but on a larger scale – they anchor soil, absorb excess water, photosynthesize, producing oxygen, take in carbon dioxide and are soothingly green and peaceful.

The psychology of trees is a thing. The high canopy of the trees seems to be civilizing.

Tree lined streets are beautiful places to walk and live. Studies have shown that neighborhoods with fewer trees are associated with more crime, and there’s less crime with green trees. Yet low growing shrubs and smaller plants were connected with more crime with their potential to hide illegal activities.

Planting trees

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Don’t want or need a tree at home, but want to plant trees? There are tree planting events in your community.

Search “plant trees”, “tree planting events near me”.
It’s a really fun way to meet new people, learn to plant a tree, be outdoors, and know you’re helping Earth’s biodiversity.

Yes, plant a tree.
First, do some research - which trees will grow best in your region, ecosystem, or biome?
What does your tree needs to grow? - watering needs and soil type can guide your success. You don’t want to go through the exercise of planting a tree to have it die on you. You’ll get detailed planting guides when you buying a tree through a local nursery or supplier.

There may be free trees in your community – search “Free Trees” in your location.

Is your U.S. city a designated Tree City USA Community? Apply to strengthen your city’s forests. 

Significant Trees

These are large and old trees located on both public and private land. Cities and towns may have policies and guidelines that respect and preserve significant trees. Check out forestry, parks, and public works departments in your local governments to find significant trees.

Australia has taken action as well as several cities in the United States. Los Angeles calls significant trees Heritage Trees and identifies their species and location. 

Plant trees by giving

Maybe this is too much work. Tree centric organizations are happy to take your money to make sure more trees are planted.

Plant a Billion Trees, an initiative of the Nature Conservatory, makes 2025 as the year by which 1 billion trees are planted. It also acts to prevent deforestation.

Arbor means trees, and the Arbor Day Foundation works to “...plant, nurture, and celebrate trees” and takes donations.

We Forest Making Earth Cooler  works internationally and sustainably, through citizens and corporations, and action and investment.

A Living Tribute personalizes tree planting in national forests, celebrating or memorializing something or someone meaningful to you.

Dead plants have answers: Fossil fuels

The fossil fuels we use – gas, oil and coal – are made of compressed plants and other organisms found under the Earth’s surface. Humans pump and dig then process them. The fossil fuels generate energy that you use daily. The screen you’re reading from right now runs off the remains of ancient plants.

When burned and used, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas connected to global warming.

Conserve dead plants: Reduce fossil fuel use

  • Turn out the lights.

  • Turn off the TV when no one’s watching.

  • Stop looking for the closest parking spot. When you drive more, you burn more gas, that fossil fuel that has carbon dioxide which increases global warming.

  • Carpool. Less wheels, more people going to the same place.

  • Take public transportation.

  • Walk.

  • Bike.

Which plants take in lots of CO2? Super hero plants.