[Letters] Protecting our giving tree

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[Letters] Protecting our giving tree

In February 2010, Hiroshima, Japan will hold the “2010 APEC Junior Conference” with participants from 21 different nations. I am honored and excited to be selected as one of Korea’s two delegates. My presentation will be creating a peaceful life through helping our environment.

Adored by many, Shel Silverstein’s eminent book “The Giving Tree” introduces a young boy who enjoys spending time with a tree. But as he grows, he begins to selfishly take the fruit, then the branches, and lastly the trunk. Years later, the boy returns as an elderly gentleman. Out of tenacious love, the tree offers him a seat on its stump. However, the fellow could have rested in the shade of a stronger, more majestic tree than on a lonely stump if he had cared for it. Today, the earth is facing a similar situation like the giving tree.

Mankind may not notice, but we are behaving like the selfish boy. Humans are damaging our “giving tree,” earth, by destroying nature, heavily using resources such as fossil fuels and creating too much waste and carbon dioxide. We are helping if not ourselves, our future generations to possibly rest on a hellish planet represented by that stump. Global warming is becoming a serious problem for everyone. Most would want to live in a peaceful world, but global warming is annihilating that vision. Already, we see temperatures rising and we have yet to realize what atrocities may come if our planet keeps heating up. High temperatures will be a detriment to the ozone layer and raise the risk of skin cancer and numerous other health issues. The polar ice would continue melting, causing land and major cities like New York to be submerged. Less land will bring major consequences to farming, economies and habitats. Hunger, poverty and extinction of certain animals will increase rapidly, troubling international relationships and creating conflicts.

One would find it impossible to have a peaceful, amiable life in a place this dreadful. Yet we have already started to cut our “tree.” We can stop now and help it heal, or continue chopping, use it and have nothing left. Helping or not helping to prevent global warming is a decision of life and death.

What can we do for our earth and our peaceful life? Auspiciously, numerous people have stepped in to nourish the dying environment. Around the world, people are trying to be more environmentally friendly. For example, Korea has become greener in ways such as recycling, separating food from other trash and encouraging the use of fuel-efficient public transportation.

Despite these efforts, many still do not try or care about saving our home. They may believe that the earth is too big to care for and that it can only be helped in great ways. However, caring isn’t only demonstrated by protesting or joining an environmental rights group.

We can start small; step by step. Start easily by making one of the key factors predominant to a good life: a clean, accommodating family. Simply reduce trash and save energy. Picking up litter even helps. If a few families would start to care and make an effort to help the environment, it may influence other families to do the same. Eventually, there would be a cleaner city, a cleaner nation and a better earth. Our lives would be in harmony with nature and we could live in a beautiful, caring environment. We would be living in a genuine “blue planet” once more.

It is crucial for us humans to make a better, healthier environment. The power is in our hands to make a greener, peaceful earth for our future and coming generations. Our decisions today will help us rest joyfully on a powerful, loving “giving tree.” Let us make a happy finale for earth; after all, even The Giving Tree has a happy ending.

Kang Dong-woo, SahmYook Middle School
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