Too few trees and not enough condoms

Once upon a time, long time before being overly offended was popular, the World didn’t have, or at least didn’t think about, this thing called climate change which started out as Global warming but didn’t take into account the places that were becoming much cooler.

So what’s different? Probably not a lot really and maybe the name changed to save a bit of face? Time will tell.

At the risk of some sixteen year old girl getting a little annoyed the relationship between increasing human population and decreasing tree population could do with a little more attention.

World population

In 1927 the World population was 2 billion. After 33 years it had increased to 3 billion and then in just half that time had increased another billion. Now in 2019 we have 7.7 billion people running around the planet and many of them blaming the generation born in the 50’s for ruining it! Trust me that demographic is definitely not contributing to population growth anymore!

In correlation lets look at the tree population which makes up 30% of the Worlds land mass… now. But since 1990 and area the size of South Africa
(1.3 million square kilometers, for those who don’t know how big South Africa is) has been removed from the tree population.

A little misleading but fairly undeniable that climate changes appear to be going hand in hand with deforestation and population growth.

When is a tree not a tree?

Just for the record forests are being replanted and changed agricultural practices in the middle of the last century had a positive effect on the climate as the Chinese policy of one child families had on population growth after 1980. Nothing is cut and dried, but the overall picture is what is important.

There are reliable studies that show that there are more trees on Earth than there were 50 years ago? Probably true but there is a need to define trees.

Replacing a tree that has been around for hundreds of years or even thousands in the case of some red woods with a palm oil tree for example is really not going to have the same benefit to mankind as the original tree that is now doing absolutely no good to anyone in its new role as a few million sheets of A4 paper.

Social Media is doing great job of making everyone aware of the rain forest problems. Consequently the problems are being addressed. Hopefully not a case of too little too late.

What is not being addressed with the same results is the rapid deforestation in Central and Southern Africa.

The deforestation in Africa increases pace in direct proportion to the deterioration of good Governance.

Is bad Governance the problem

Zimbabwe is a good example of this, using the word “good” in its loosest sense. The country has one of the highest unemployment figures in the World which obviously creates a poverty stricken environment. And because the people are broke so too is the Government. being broke they can not supply even basic needs like electricity and clean water to its populous.

The populous inconveniently need to eat and preferably cook what they eat. Without gas, electricity or any other affordable fuel they turn to the only thing left.. wood which of course means trees.

A look at a “before and after” picture of an area can be both enlightening and extremely frightening. The following two pictures show an area in Eastern Zimbabwe that have been affected by what is fundamentally bad Governance.

This not only includes wanton deforestation but also riverine cultivation. Three years after the second photo hurricane Ida would claim many lives. How many would not have died had there still been trees to minimise the impact?

A Google map view of the eastern Highlands December 1985. The same area Hurricane Idai would come through in 2019
The same area in 2016. Also in December which is a couple of months into the rainy season. Hurricane Idai is still two years away.

The population continues to increase and bad Governance continues in Zimbabwe. A problem in many other African Nations. Both issues exacerbating the tree versus people problem.

The solution?

A simple effective solution to climate change would not involve asking people to change their lifestyles. That hasn’t worked. The main culprits who care little about their carbon footprint care even less about doing something about it! The solution should be more simple.

In the mid 80’s it was generally accepted that the climate was relatively stable, what ever stable is when referring to Global weather.

The World population then was just hitting 4 billion, the tree population was not so easy to quantify. How ever you measure it or them they have arguably not changed a great deal since then. However the population has nearly doubled!

Therein must be the underlying problem.

We can not keep adding passengers to the train without upgrading the engine pulling it!

So lets plant more trees and wear more condoms!

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