The year Greta Thunberg was born, I was 22 and enjoying my life as a foreign student in Spain; I was an avid reader (as I have always been) but my interest in current affairs and non-fiction was limited, as far as I can remember, to discovering what was on the menu of my University’s canteen.
When I look back at those days I realise how short-sighted I was: the world was changing around me, and it was changing for the worse, but I was not doing much to prevent that from happening: heavily consuming, heavily exploiting, heavily everything.
That’s what a 22 years old does, right? Well that’s correct to some extent, but a few months ago I started reflecting on my younger years and realised how much it is being done to create climate change awareness by people much younger than I was at the time. I started feeling shallow (if not stupid). I have never done enough to get involved, so I decided to turn my book avidity to non-science prints, as I wanted to understand more.
I came across many books, some of them particularly interesting and worth sharing: “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert, “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein, “Half Earth” by Edward O. Wilson, “The Invention of Nature” by Andrea Wulf.
Each book frightening in its own way, as they rightfully describe global climate change as the potential cause of our own extinction, something we could have avoided centuries ago and we just decided to ignore. However, all of them are also full of hope and ideas on how to practically try to reverse the dire circumstances we have created for our civilisation.
One thing all of these books agree about: let nature do its job, don’t interfere, let trees grow and animals reproduce; it sounds such a common sense thing, and yet not everybody understand it.
Another thing they all seem to suggest is that the solution is right there, in those simple concepts: the tools to reverse climate change are in our hands, and one of the most powerful we have is trees.
Planting trees is the single, most-effective way of reducing CO2 emissions (the real cause of global warming); this has been recently studied by Zurich’s ETH University, and it was reasonably demonstrated that planting one trillion trees in the world may significantly curb the current trends in global warming.
Pairing that and an adjustment of our habits (consume less, travel in sustainable ways, eat more plant-based products, recycle and re-use as much as possible) would basically reverse climate change trends.
When I read this, I felt I found where I wanted to concentrate my energy: find a way to plant more trees; so I thought to use democracy to make this a topic on Luxembourg’s political agenda.
Back in summer, I submitted a petition to the Luxembourg Parliament, as I came up with a simple calculation: if we save 0.5% of the Grand-Duchy’s territory (12.93 km2) and we use it for re-forestation, we are going to plant 3 million more trees in the Country; still not enough on a global scale, but totally impressive considering the size of the Country we live in.
My petition was accepted by the Parliament last week and now it’s open for vote: I think it could be an interesting way to push politicians to focus on a topic that is urgent and that cannot wait for the natural times of politics (which is a slow business, despite much effort put by some politicians into making things better).
We only have until November 1st if we want it to pass!