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According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, only 7% of Mongolia is forested. Between 1990 and 2000 Mongolia lost an average of 81,900 hectares or 0.65% of its forest per year. Between 2000 and 2010, Mongolia lost 13.1% of its forest, or around 1,638,000 hectares. (Mongabay.com)
Deforestation is one of the biggest problems facing our world today. However, it is not the first time our world has faced this colossal problem. According to one of the oldest and longest myths in the world, the Gesar myth, it has happened before. The Mongolian version of the Gesar myth teaches that in ancient times there was an epic battle between the tenger, or sky gods. At the end of the war, the god Khormasta (Master-Over-Evil) destroyed his enemy, the god Ataa Ulaan (Red-Envy), by cutting him into nine pieces. The head of Red-Envy became the demonic dragon, Araatan Chutgur (Beastly Demon), which tried to devour the sun and moon. The neck of Red-Envy became the demon Gal-Nurma-Khan (King of Fire and Ash). The right arm of Red-Envy became the beast Orgoli (Deforestation). The right arm of Red-Envy, when it fell to earth, landed in Mongolia. It was a gargantuan beast which devoured all the trees. That is why Mongolia has so few trees to this day. On and on the myth goes, but we shall stop there, because this article is about deforestation.
Nowadays, it appears that the demon of deforestation has spread out all over the world. Not only are trees disappearing in Mongolia, but in every country in the world. We often hear about the world’s rain forests disappearing, either to produce lumber or to make way for farm land. Yet, for the first time in recorded history, we have reports that we are losing trees for reasons not yet fully understood. They are not dying from forest fires. They are not dying from being chopped down. They are dying on their feet, just dying for no apparent reason.
Jim Robins, in his book, The Man Who Planted Trees, wrote about a man named David Milarch, who is cloning the “champion trees of the world” and planting them all around the USA. So far, he and his helpers have planted 20,000 baby trees around the USA. The reason for this project is because millions of trees have died from the Mexican border all the way up into Canada. They suspect that the causes may include climate change, insects, and disease. The climate these days is hotter and drier in America. This means that insect populations and bacterial infections are on the rise.
For all animals on this planet, this presents a colossal problem, because trees use carbon-dioxide. When the trees are gone, the amount of carbon-dioxide in the air increases. This causes atmospheric warming. It’s a vicious cycle, and it’s only getting worse.
Linda Moulton Howe reported in May of 2012 on Coast to Coast AM radio broadcast that this phenomenon has reached epidemic proportions. Some trees are on the verge of extinction, like the oldest trees on the planet: the bristlecone pine trees. “Either humans are going to finally ‘get it’ and they’re going to move forward trying to support life on this earth,… or we’re going to sink into our own destruction,” said Linda Moulton Howe.
Many countries around the world have an arbor day, when people are supposed to get out and plant trees, but from my experience, very few people actually participate in such activities.
On the other hand, Mongolia recently has instituted two, not one, two national tree-planting days: one on the second Saturday of May and one on the second Saturday of October. Mongolia may be the model for the world with its “One tree for every person” movement. The idea has caught on quickly. Many school children around the country are organised each year to plant trees. For instance, this year, Orchlon grade 6 and grade 7 students went to Zunkharaa, Mongolia to plant trees. A hundred students planted hundreds of trees over a five-day period in May 2012. Such efforts are laudable. However is it enough? Will it save the planet? Will it save us?
According to the Gesar Myth, the sky gods held a council to decide what should be done about all the problems on Earth caused by the war of the gods. The chief of all the gods, Etsege Malaan (All-caring Father), told Master-Over-Evil that since he had caused all the problems, he must fix them. He must go down, incarnate into a human body, and fix all the problems that he had caused on Earth. Just then, Master-Over-Evil’s second son, Bukhe Biligte Baatar (All-Gifted Hero), stood up and pleaded with the gods to send him instead, for it would be better if his father remained as leader of his family in the sky. The gods all agreed and All-Caring Father acquiesced. So, it was that All-Gifted Hero was born of a virgin princess. His Earthly name came to be Gesar, and he became King. To make a very long story short, King Gesar was a benevolent king, who saved all humanity from the mess that his father had created when he chopped Red-Envy into nine pieces.
This time, however, things are different. We humans have created this problem ourselves. Perhaps, therefore, it is of no use to expect the gods to save us from our own problems. Linda Moulton Howe is convinced the lack of living trees is now a global problem, not just a Mongolian problem or an Amazon rain-forest problem. People all over the world need to get into the act before it’s too late. We need to plant trees, and lots of them, all over the world. The simple fact is that trees keep our planet from overheating. They prevent erosion. They provide habitats for thousands of endemic species which could go extinct without the trees. They give us oxygen to breathe. Tree hugging is not the answer to the problem. Planting trees is the answer.
write by Scott King