A United Front: As the Nation Faces a Variety of Problems, We Look for Solutions That Address the Whole, Instead of Its Independent Parts

By Gangloff, Deborah | American Forests, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

A United Front: As the Nation Faces a Variety of Problems, We Look for Solutions That Address the Whole, Instead of Its Independent Parts


Gangloff, Deborah, American Forests


It may be that every new President promises to transform government, but from the last few months it appears that President Obama is actually keeping to that promise (Dawson, p. 9). In a recent interview, the President admitted that he was dealing with many issues at once - energy, the economy, unemployment, health care, education, the environment, etc. - but wished he could have the option of taking them one at a time.

What we lose with a one-at-a-time strategy is the synergy that comes from dealing with many interrelated issues at once. We need to integrate these problem areas into comprehensive solutions. How can we create jobs, save energy and money, provide education opportunities, enhance human health, and reverse climate change all at the same time? You would be surprised how green solutions can solve a myriad of problems.

The green industry is made up of urban foresters, nursery workers, arborists, landscapers, and many others. It's a multi-billion dollar industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people. Expanding the number of trees in our cities and towns would create jobs in their planting and care, and provide many social, environmental, and economic benefits. Green jobs guru Van Jones is now an Administration member in the White House's Council on Environmental Quality; a promising appointment for green jobs and the ecosystem service value of trees.

As we rebuild our decaying infrastructure - our roads, bridges, and tunnels - let's rebuild our green infrastructure to ensure that the natural functioning of the land - the cycling of air, water, carbon - is restored and enhanced. Rebuilding "the gray and the green" in tandem, is the only way to ensure that both are whole and functioning. (See Millar, p.34).

The US Department of Energy (DOE) encourages the use of shade trees and shrubs to cool buildings as a low-cost, energy efficiency action (Little, p. 43), and statements from DOE's Secretary Chu indicate that the science of urban forestry will receive much-deserved attention in his tenure.

It's also promising to hear officials at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) promote the use of energy efficient appliances and green building standards. …

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A United Front: As the Nation Faces a Variety of Problems, We Look for Solutions That Address the Whole, Instead of Its Independent Parts
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