Climate change is too often mistaken as a foe for our future generations to fight. Climate change isn’t dormant. It’s already at work, all over the planet.
We see it in the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters. We see it in the dangerous heat trapped in cities and historically disadvantaged communities. We see it in the millions of lives claimed by climate change every year, according to a recent study.
Experts say socially vulnerable communities are bearing the brunt of climate change. For example, the EPA says in low-income areas, water resources like sewer and stormwater systems are typically older and might be incapable of withstanding the storm surges and heavy rains that accompany climate change. It leaves households dependent on these systems more exposed to pollutants in their drinking water and poorer water quality. Vulnerable communities are also at a higher risk of being impacted by other climate-related hazards like food shortages, insect-related diseases, and poor mental health.
So, how do we fight back?
Experts have long pointed to trees as one of the most scalable and affordable nature-based solutions to battling climate change. Trees pull carbon from the air, clean our water, and reduce dangerously high temperatures. To bring these benefits to communities all over the world, the Arbor Day Foundation is committed to planting the right tree, in the right place, at the right time. By 2027, the Foundation aims to plant 500 million trees, with program activity in 90 percent of areas of greatest need — where they’ll be prepared to help fight the effects of climate change.
COLLABORATING WITH COMMUNITIES
For the Foundation, that process starts in a place of humility. We’re not experts on the climate, community, and wildlife makeup of every location we plant trees. Before a shovel ever breaks ground, we must build connections with people who live and work in the area. From local elected officials to tree planting organizations, to volunteers and schools, we first seek to understand what their community goals are, and how trees could be part of their plans.