Let's stop talking about climate change

And start talking about deforestation.

Climate change has been a topic of debate in politics, media, and pop culture. There isn’t a day that I don’t see a post on Medium about climate change. It’s amazing that finally, it seems like there is active discussion about the imminent threats facing humanity. 

As important as climate change is - it’s extremely concerning that we don’t talk nearly enough about other threats facing our planet. Massive deforestation, loss of biodiversity, ocean pollution, bee colony collapse, air pollution. The list goes on. 

I’m not an environmental scientist, and I don’t lobby for an environmental non-profit. But I’m a concerned citizen who loves the great outdoors and considers nature to be an integral part of the human condition.

This is where I will stop mentioning climate change, because climate change gets enough publicity. So much publicity, in fact, that some of the solutions to climate change actually ignore some of the other threats to our planet. Solar panels that are supposed to produce “sustainable energy” require thousands of acres of forest to be cleared. Wind turbines disorient and often kill birds. These are just a couple of examples of how much tunnel vision our society has.

I am lucky to live in New Hampshire, one of the northern states that has seen a tremendous forest comeback since industrial revolution left the state nearly completely free of trees. But New Hampshire forests are now at an ever-increasing risk. This risk comes from greedy capitalist development that continues to speed up. More buildings, more profit.

As someone who enjoys spending time in nature, and as someone who loves driving through green places and contemplating them, it always hurts to see old-growth forests desecrated in favor of cookie cutter housing developments and strip malls. 

Frequently I listen to recordings of my city’s planning board. The very board that should defend Nashua’s last remaining green places often allows developers to clear land, often damaging wetlands. 

It doesn’t have to be this way.  

The current state of land management in America is that of lax regulation and lack of concern. Everyone seems to think “there’s many other trees out there” and “what’s one less wetland”? Though if everyone has that train of thought, the destruction of our open spaces is much closer than you might think.

Governments should govern, and we must adopt a conservation-first approach to development, to life. We must not allow trees to simply be removed because they are a nuisance to someone, or because someone wants more sunlight. We should pass zoning laws which encourage sustainable development and land maintenance.

It’s easy to hope that someone will make the right decisions, to hope that, maybe our kids will “figure it out”. We must take responsibility: participe in local environmental matters, attend planning bord meetings, file complaints, protest, make your voice heard. 

We must also educate our kids on the importance of wild places. Sure, there are programs that focus on educating the youth on the importance of conservation, but we don’t do it enough, and we don’t go far enough. It shocks me to see millennials who buy cookie cutter developments with no trees and don’t even bother to plant any trees - millennials who don’t understand why wetlands are important.

Without education, we will see a continued erosion of the beautiful American lands  - until there is no more beauty. Until there is no more wilderness. Unless we take steps to start educating our friends and our kids on the immense importance of wild places, we will end up with yet another generation that perceives trees as weeds that must be conquered.

The capitalist machine has one goal: make money. The cost be damned. It’s on each and every one of us to wake up and realize that we must start protecting every acre of natural landscape we have, else, beautiful places like New Hampshire, will end up with mostly strip malls, housing developments, and an occasional park. 

So I appreciate all of the climate talk, but let’s not forget about other threats that are often just across the street.