John F. Kennedy told the story of the great French Marshal Lyautey who once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The marshal replied, "In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!"
I love this kind of reasoning. And we need tree-planting inspiration more than ever. Air pollution in our cities is a big worry and what knocks me over is the absolute patience and tolerance this matter is met with. We keep hearing that National Clean Air Standards will be met - soon. What are these standards, who will implement them, when is soon and why are we talking in future? I am sick of looking at the famous postcard-view (Table Mountain from Blouberg - NOT from my stoep!) which is breathtaking except for the brown-fog-edging. Our cities need to clamp down on the money-spinning 'Big Dogs' and their ever-active chimneys, smoking equivalents in truck form and other obvious culprits. All green belts should be covered with trees. They snatch many pollutants from the atmosphere, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3). Yes, I know - these names (and bits in brackets) are impressive and alien to me too, but they smack of danger don't they.
Getting us closer to blue skies can have a ripple effect in cooling down temperatures too. When last have you gardened after 11h00 in the summer? We simply can't do that anymore as it's too hot. Trees - while slowing down the wind! - absorb carbon dioxide in their quest to grow. Carbon dioxide is the bugger that causes our planet to overheat.
So, seeing I don't have a seat in government, I suggest us complainers and generally happy gardening folk start planting trees in our own gardens and support people like Food & Trees for Africa (see www.trees.co.za ). Then we get to complain with clean conscious.
All the best,
The Gardening Eden Team
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