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Trees to the Rescue! is a startup effort to provide Long Beach residents an opportunity to participate in a climate change mitigation effort.

On average, a tree captures some 48 pounds of CO2 (carbon dioxide) per year. Long Beach has about 44,000 parkways that are presently treeless. If and when that number of trees is planted, the eventual annual carbon capture could total to 950 tons of CO2 per year. This amount would greatly offset the current carbon emissions of our various city department’s annual operations.

Long Beach is formulating its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, and tree planting is a part of that plan. There presently are three Long Beach tree planting programs. One program is managed by Margaret Madden, an officer with Housing and Neighborhood Improvement. Margaret has been able to plant more than 4,000 trees using volunteers who plant and water the young saplings. Additionally, there are about 350 fruit trees available to homeowners willing to accommodate them within their front yards. Finally, there's the ongoing tree planting service managed by the Long Beach Office of Sustainability.

The Tree Planting Partnership program is a free service to homeowners provided they make a request for a tree, and agree to a partnership of stewardship for the long term care of the tree. With an abundance of parkway planting opportunities, it is clear that the word is not getting out. “Trees to the Rescue!” hopes to be the remedy.

Trees to the Rescue is an effort to enroll community organizations into climate action by providing “boots on the ground” to encourage homeowners to become partners with Long Beach for tree planting and care. Massive tree planting is a partial but serious climate solution due to needed carbon sequestration that, according to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, must coincide with a high reduction of fossil fuel burning and its CO2 emissions.

Emission cuts and carbon sequestration cannot come quickly enough. Ominous alterations of Arctic Circle climatic conditions are approaching Biblical proportions. Rare wildfires throughout the Arctic circle are now common place, with several raging currently in Alaska that started just last month (June). Last summer Greenland actually caught fire, and the melting season never stopped this last winter for the very first time. Which is not surprising since for the last three winters the Arctic average temperature has been 50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer! Massive glacier fields in Antarctic are now moving toward the ocean, something that was never expected in the climate models. And Finally, have you noticed, 75% of the planets insects have vanished! Road trip windshields are noticeably cleaner.

China and India have heeded the IPCC call and have extensive tree planting programs for desert reclamation and carbon sequestration and do so with citizen volunteers. India planted 50 million trees in one day! Citizen involvement is an essential ingredient to restore our environment locally, nationally, and globally. Long Beach can become a model for every community! And we need to get busy!

Trees to the Rescue is looking for caring folks who can roll up their sleeves and get involved. Contact me, Greg Stewart, at gbs@gregstewart.email, or give me a call or text at 562-712-2005. Together we are the difference.

Greg Stewart is a Long Beach resident.

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