I call this the folly of man. First humans have to destroy the natural world to the point where it has almost disappeared and is broken. And then humans wake up to the damage they have done and decide that they can’t accept it. The damage has to be in their face, right in their face before they do anything about it. I’ve always said that if all polluted air was coloured pink, there wouldn’t be any polluted air because humans would be able to see it. Humans have to really feel the effects of the damage they do before they act upon it. It has to become personal.
The replanting of 4 billion trees in Ethiopia is an example of what I’ve just described. Let’s first say that this is a target. I would doubt very much whether it will actually happen as planned.
The Times reports that 4 billion trees, the equivalent of 40 per person in Africa’s second most populous nation, will be planted across Ethiopia. The objective: to fight deforestation, which of course was caused by the people of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has a barren rural landscape. The cities are leafless. Did somebody chop all the trees down in the cities? Yes (see below). Tree cover in cities has fallen from 35% in the early 20th century to 13% in 2019.
The Prime Minister seems to be behind this initiative. He hopes that the trees will transform Ethiopian’s degraded environment and make people healthier.
Deforestation has been caused by the rapid expansion of the country’s population which has resulted in an expansion in agriculture, construction and the service sectors. The population is currently 105 million. It is axiomatic that a rapid population growth will have an equally rapid effect on degrading the natural world unless the human does something very fancy and improves productivity through technology and reduces the destructive impact of a higher population on nature.
We are told that almost 90% of the households in Ethiopia rely on wood for fuel. There is the answer to why the country has been deforested. They are burning the forests down to keep warm.
Deforestation of an area the size of Switzerland takes place annually in Africa. And globally, deforestation accounts for about 20% of all carbon emissions.
There have also been wildfires in Ethiopia. The government intends to use the efforts of hundreds of thousands of volunteers to plant 4 billion saplings including fast-growing bamboo grasses in areas where there has been soil erosion and mud slides.
Some money for this project was raised by selling tickets to a gala dinner with the Prime Minister. 200 tickets were sold at $173,000 each! I thought Ethiopia was a poor country. This is an ambitious project which apparently is typical of the Prime Minister, Mr Ahmed, 42 years of age.
It would have been so much better if they had not cut down the trees in the first place, would it not? Why do humans have to be so reactionary? Why can’t people be proactive, look ahead, think long term and do the right thing now rather than years in the future?
What has this got to do with the animal-human relationship? Well you might have the answer which is quite obvious namely that a lot of animals live in the forest. A lot of small wild cat species live in forests. You chop down the forests, you destroy their habitat and therefore you destroy them. Destroying forests is a lot more than simply destroying habitat as mentioned on this page. Deforestation is a global problem. The world is still developing and the use of natural resources like this is so destructive.
Governments are doing very little about it. It is down really to big business to take the lead on this and find ways to generate economic growth without destroying the planet. That is the domain of big business.