Our planet is a delicate system. Looking around, it may seem permanent and even invincible, but in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The air we breathe, the water we drink, even the land we stand on – all these things only exist because of a perfect balance that nature keeps in check. If that system is thrown off balance even a little bit, our Earth could become like every other planet in our solar system: a barren rock floating through space. With this in mind, it might worry you to know that Earth has lost more than half its trees since humans started cutting them down. THE TREE EMERGENCYThe figure above means we are facing an emergency. Trees create the oxygen we need to live. They filter our air, support human and animal life, and in many other ways act as the glue that holds everything together. But logging, farming, urban sprawl and other human development have cut down so many trees and shrunk so many forests that we have begun to see serious consequences. WHAT’S HAPPENING NOWDwindling tree numbers and disappearing forests are creating all sorts of ill effects, and contributing to existing problems. We’ll dive into some of the most serious issues now: Global Climate FluctuationRecord-breaking heat waves. Harsh winter storms. Massive wildfires. Unusual tornadoes and hurricanes. These issues making headlines every day are caused by climate change – which is caused by an excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. This is caused partly by a lack of trees. Trees absorb CO2 and produce oxygen, protecting us against global warming. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles. If we are to avoid irreversible ecosystem collapse due to climate change, we need to start planting more trees now. Air and Water PollutionTrees filter more than CO2, they absorb air pollutants (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark. Air pollution was estimated to have caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012 alone. This is a serious problem that trees can help solve. The sorry state of our oceans is partly thanks to tree loss as well. When it rains, trees’ roots help filter out pollution before it reaches the sea. Coastal ErosionThe same roots that filter pollution also literally hold the earth together. When it rains, or wherever a river flows, soil is carried out to sea. In an area that has been logged, the soil gets carried out at frightening rates, causing land to disappear beneath our feet. SO LET’S PLANT SOME TREESGlobal warming, air and water pollution and coastal erosion are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our tree problem. The problems are frightening, but the solution is simple: plant more trees. So let’s start planting trees, and lots of them. There are some problems that are difficult to approach, but this one can be taken head on. Go outside and plant a tree. Donate to an organisation that is already doing so. Or volunteer for one that is happening near you. Most major cities (and lots of minor ones) have tree planting groups and initiatives. What you do can help save the world. And not just in the big picture! Even right at home, trees have some amazing benefits. Neighbourhood with more trees see less violence. Hospital patients with trees outside their windows heal faster. And exposure to trees and nature aids in concentration and general mental function. So go out and plant!ORGANISATIONS TO WATCHIf you want to take action, here are a few places where you can learn more about the problem and help solve it. Plant a Billion Trees is one of the biggest tree-planting initiatives worldwide. Where deforestation has struck, they strike back by planting seeds to help endangered forests survive. They’ve raised over $19 million so far, but they need more help! Click on the link to learn more and help them towards their goal of planting one billion trees by 2025. Plant for the Planet is the United Nation’s version of Plant a Billion Trees. They’ve already planted 15 billion trees, and are now aiming for one trillion! Join them at the link and see the plantings they organise around the world. Drones Planting Trees. This is not a massive organization, but an exciting initiative. Imagine – an army of flying drones capable of planting an entire forest from the sky… up to 100,000 trees in a single day. That’s what’s happening in Myanmar right now. Check it out and get inspired.