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I am Helping a Tree Take a Chance on Me?

Climate change always gets a bad rep. It’s blamed for rising ocean levels, melting glaciers, and a slew of many other predicaments. However, amidst all these problems, climate change has done one thing well: it has promoted the growth of forests in the Eastern United States. This unexpected outcome really embodies the idea of looking on the bright side of things.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, trees in the mentioned region are growing faster than they have in the past 225 years. Ecologists Geoffrey Parker and Sean McMahon found evidence that the forest is growing an additional 2 tons per acre annually. To bring this into perspective, that is like having a 2-foot diameter tree sprouting in a year. On the average, such trees take decades and even centuries to grow fully. Parker and McMahon say that this growth spurt is likely due to several factors of climate change: increased levels on CO2 in the atmosphere, an increased temperature, and a lengthened growing season. Their study stated that CO2 levels have risen by 12% in the past 22 years, the mean temperature has risen by three-tenths of a degree, and the growing season has increased by 7.8 days. All these factors combined are the reason the trees have been shooting up in inches.

Growing trees are a good thing. More trees means more CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere and converted into oxygen. So does this study mean we can bust out our Escalades and crank the A/C on high? Not so fast, junior. Despite the fact that the study doesn’t mention any consequences of the tree growth spurt, it is important to look at the bigger picture. Sure, the trees are sprouting, but at the same time, global climate change causes more devastation than benefit: more extreme weather (heat waves, hurricanes), increased temperature of oceans, change in the pattern of migration and mating for animals…the list can go on and on. So although it is reassuring to know that our wasteful ways have incurred some benefit, the consequences outweigh profits and we should not be encouraged to continue perpetuating climate change, but rather strive to mitigate it.


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