DID YOU KNOW that trees are made from air? Yes really. The molecule chlorophyll that makes the leaves green is able to break down carbon dioxide – one of the ingredients of the air all around us and accumulate the carbon part in the timber of the tree. The oxygen part of the carbon dioxide molecule is released as pure oxygen which we need to stay alive.
This work done by the leaves happens during daylight as the light from the sun provides the energy. Hence the word used to describe this process – PHOTOSYNTHESIS – meaning work done using light.
So, the really good news is that two trees supply enough oxygen for one person for a whole year. So plant two trees this National Tree Week and you are sorted in the oxygen department for the coming twelve months, That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen enormously over the past two hundred years. By 1950, the level had risen above 300 parts per million for the first time in at least a million years. Sixty-six years later it is now 400 parts per million. This rapid change over such a short period of time has been caused by humans burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas and turf and releasing the carbon they contained into the air in the form of carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide in the air holds on to heat from the sun, stopping it from being reflected back into space and thus affecting the earth’s climate. Since 1951 NASA figures have shown that the average temperature of the planet has risen by 0.99 degrees centigrade with 2016 being the warmest year so far, in other words man-made climate change.
The only way to get the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is by photosynthesis. Trees take the carbon from the air and store it as timber – each tree a carbon sink.
Every time we drive our cars fuelled by petrol or diesel we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere making the problem, worse. Burning one litre of petrol emits 2.3kg of carbon dioxide into the air (diesel emits 2.64). A fill of petrol = say 60 litres emits 13.84 kg of carbon dioxide. Over the course of a whole year a tree will absorb 22kg of carbon dioxide.
So, to make up for the carbon dioxide you emit while driving your fossil fuel fired car for a year you would need to plant at least TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY trees which would cover half an acre of ground when grown.