4 million tree births-in-ground; 128,000 midwives

If you live in Vallarta perhaps you saw this online article in the PV Pulse. Come on guys. You can do better than this kind of reporting. Having worked in the environmental field for some years, I can say with a certain certainty that herein this story presents a classic case of environmental stumbling block.

The story is about Mexico’s National Day of Reforestation, July 17, 2011. First a few factoids from the story:

  • Nearly 128,000 people planted four million trees of 118 species at events across Mexico at 360 sites to help reforest 4,600 hectares.
  • Volunteer numbers exceeded expectations by about 30,000.
  • Mexico is one of the world’s five most reforested countries and has been acknowledged by UNEP, the UN’s Environmental Program.
  • In the 5 years between 2005 – 2010, Mexico  cut its deforestation rate by more than half.
  • The country’s official goal is zero deforestation in less than 9 years — by 2020 .

So where–you may rightly ask–is the problemo? It’s here:  “… some have questioned the effectiveness of the program… and here: “A SEMARNAT report suggested that of the 4 million trees planted, 1.7 million will not survive.”

Look, 55 percent of trees DO make it. Of the 4 mil, 2.3 million will grow up to  become magnificent trees. And that’s because we the people really do care. Yet in the never ending quest for ‘fair’ journalistic reporting–say nothing of the never ending search for bad, sad and horror stories–the ‘facts’ are laid out to appear equal.

They aren’t and it’s a stupid crying shame to report it that way. Of course tell the whole story. Go ahead and print survival stats. But we should be cheering. We should be reporting on how great it was, of grandparents helping little ones plant a tree. We should show the community created and the sense of accomplishment. That’s how we help build MORE OF IT. For heaven’s sake, isn’t that the point?

Besides, never mind that in ‘factual’ reporting no one considered the full impact of the planting day. That was 128,000 people out there. That’s not a cold taco! What about the seeds they planted with their engagement. What will come of the stories they brought home to friends and family? Of their example? We may not be able to quantify it, but we sure as hell can report it.

Part of the reason we need environmental awareness to grow pronto is because we haven’t been measuring the full impacts of natural resource usage. That completely screwed up how we value and price our f i n i t e resources. I’ll save this rant for another day, but you don’t honestly think that US$4.00 is the real price of a gallon of gas, do you? Or that clean air is free?Please tell me you get it.

As we are finally learning to include the ‘externalities’ into costing of resource use, let’s include the full impacts of damage control and reversal. All I’m really saying is this is cause for celebration!

Me, I’m purring. I’m basking in the living miracle of 4 million tree births-in-ground attended by 128,000 midwives!

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