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Changing climate having a critical impact on trees

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Changing climate having a critical impact on trees

A news story about a study published by Nature shows that our changing climate is impacting the ability of trees to carry out photosynthesis. This concerns many of us, including the water sector.

Briefly, if a tree cannot carry out photosynthesis, the leaves will die. If enough leaves die, the tree will also die.

The study showed that despite the air temperature being “significantly cooler than the leaves themselves, some .01 percent of individual leaves can reach a critical temperature at which the enzymes required for photosynthesis go through a process call denaturation,” which is irreversible.

In addition to their many contributions as part of the food chain, a valuable resource, and a foundation of nature’s beauty, trees play a significant role in your drinking water’s journey from collection to consumption. In fact, more than 50% of our nation’s water supply passes through forests. This includes the drinking water supplies for major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Denver and Atlanta.

Leaves and branches catch some of the falling rain, reducing erosion and the amount of sediments potentially reaching source water. Rain that reaches the ground filters through the soil, where some is absorbed by tree roots. The roots and logs absorb nutrients that could also pollute bodies of water.

We’re not doomed, though. The study’s co-author, Christopher Doughty, an earth systems scientist at Northern Arizona University, said reducing carbon emissions and reducing deforestation might take “the worst-case scenario out of the running.”

There are many simple ways to reduce your carbon emissions, including:

  1. Use a reusable water bottle instead of plastic bottles.
  2. Turn off lights and devices when not in use.
  3. Eat more food made or grown locally and less red meat.
  4. Use the cold water cycle for full laundry loads.
  5. Use public transportation, walk or ride a bicycle instead of driving a car.
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