A Future Without Trees?

Recently, I was listening to a radio show in which commentators were talking about the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing. I remember that evening very well. I watched the images of that historic milestone with my great grandmother in Puerto Rico. She was 84 then and we discussed how the world had changed during her lifetime. She described seeing the arrival of the first cars to the Island. She contrasted those developments with the news-breaking story of that evening on July 20, 1969, when the first man landed on the moon. Looking back to these 40 years, we’ve witnessed great technological advances and innovations we now take for granted. Travel in space, communications, and nanotechnology are just some of the things that have changed in the past forty years. And that brings me to the subject today.

I’ve always been attracted to the concept of the future. In the sixties, I remember going to the World Fair in New York and watching several exhibits which forecasted how life was going to be in the 21st century. In fact, one of my favorite cartoons, The Jetsons, was an animated science fiction sitcom which portrayed life in the 25th century as conceived by the producers back in 1963. There were robots, electronic contraptions, and flying cars. If you come to think about it, other than the flying cars, some of their futuristic ideas have become a reality. However, in remembering this series, I noticed something recently which made me pause and think. There was hardly any vegetation in that “future.” There were hardly any trees. No greenery. Is that how life will become in the 25th century?

When you come to think about it, a future without trees or vegetation would not only be scary, but deadly for all mankind. Many animals, including human beings, would not survive without any vegetation on Earth. Plants are necessary for multiple reasons—they provide us with oxygen and they are at the foundation of all food chains. Furthermore, they play a fundamental role in ecology—they cleanse the atmosphere of excessively large quantities of carbon dioxide emissions. So, when we think of sustainable development and environmental protection, these are not the fads of the moment. They are essential to our survival. We can all start working to protect our planet by pledging to take action in favor of our planet on Earth Day and every day.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.