Posted on March 12, 2016
China celebrates trees and forests on the anniversary of national hero Dr. Sun Yat Sen, who urged his nation to foster a lumber industry...
...and to replant forests so that the industry would always be strong.
Arbor Day originally started in the United States, in Nebraska, in 1872. It has caught on all over the world, although Taiwan (the Republic of China) didn't start celebrating Arbor Day until 1927, and mainland China (the People's Republic of China) waited until 1981 to begin celebrating the day.
The Chinese government urged every citizen capable of doing physical labor to plant at least two or three trees each and every year. Creating a holiday during which people can fulfill this obligation was a really good idea. Most Chinese citizens plant trees in their own home gardens or by roadsides. Some people join in with non-profit organizations that do massive tree planting programs.
China has really struggled with air pollution, as these photos show:
|When I meet neighbors who came to California from China,|
I often see them wearing face masks as is so commonly seen
in photos of Chia...even though we have little visible smog
where I live!
Trees are able to create better air quality by:
- Reducing the temperature – Shady trees keep our cities cooler, and cooler temperatures help prevent inversion layers that keep smog in place. Buildings that stay cooler in the summer don't need to use as much energy for air conditioning – another “win” for the environment. Also, some pollutants depend on warmer environments.
- Removing air pollutants by absorbing them through the tiny pores on a leaf's surface, or, sometimes, by trapping particles on the rough surface of the tree's bark. Unfortunately, this air-pollution-absorption is only a temporary solution, since many of the pollutants will be released back into the environment as the bark or tree burns, dies, or is attacked by beetles or other pests.
- Actually, trees can increase air pollution in complex ways, by releasing Volatile Organic Compounds such as isoprene. But VOC emissions depend on temperatures, and as we said, trees tend to lower temperatures, so having more tree cover usually lowers overall VOC emissions. Also, different species vary in how much VOCs they emit.
A hybrid tree called the MegaFlora is being touted as a solution to some of the complexities above. This hybrid can be grown in the worst, most depleted and even polluted soil. This tree takes only about one-eighth of the water that it takes to grown corn, and yet it grows really, really quickly – about 60 feet in just three years. While it is growing, the MegaFlora tree helps clean air, soil, and water. Most impressive of all is that it can assist in the production of natural gas!
MegaFlora trees can be “gasified” – burned up in a super-hot chamber that has no oxygen. This no-oxygen incineration changes the tree to a gas called syngas, which in turn is converted into a liquid biofuel.
And, get this – 99% of the MegaFlora tree is converted to energy! The one percent residue that is left behind is either sand or glass sand. Because it is gasified in a closed chamber, the pollutants that the tree has absorbed all through its life are burned up, too, rather than released back into the atmosphere. And I presume (but couldn't confirm) that the tree was specially bred not to churn out too many VOCs.
So, China has a huge air pollution problem. And MegaFlora trees can help provide energy while cleaning up air pollution. I read that China is jumping onto the MegaFlora bandwagon, having ordered more than two billion of these special hybrid trees!
Better get planting!
Also on this date:
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