A diabolical act is about to take place in early October in Los Angeles, all in the name of unholy progress. In order to move the Endeavor space shuttle through the city streets on its twelve-mile route to its permanent location at the California Science Center, approximately four hundred mature trees are going to be cut down throughout Inglewood and South LA. The removal (or slaughter, some would say) is to be committed in the area along Manchester Boulevard then to Crenshaw Drive and Boulevard, and also along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
It’s not as if Los Angeles is a forest and won’t miss these elderly arboreal residents. This land of pavement is well on its way to becoming as much a desert as Mojave. Reducing the amount of shade available is going to wreak havoc with the city’s already sometimes-torrid climate.
Perhaps the local powers-that-be are unaware of the value of fully grown trees in regard to the health of a region. If people have less respite from increasingly-hot temperatures, costs for cooling will rise. Deaths, therefore, due to the inability of the poor to pay for air conditioning, will also rise. One large shade tree is reportedly able to provide the equivalent of six small window air conditioners. Can a space shuttle compete with that?
As well, in our smoggy environment, trees provide a source of fresh, clean oxygen which they give off in the process of transpiration. They also, during this function, provide water to the atmosphere, similarly to the way humans perspire (but without the need for deodorant!). Since they take in carbon dioxide at that time, trees do a marvelous service to cleanse the air of greenhouse gases. Of course, those in denial where global warming is concerned will not acknowledge the importance of this occurence whatsoever.
Another function of trees is the prevention of soil erosion. Look at how dry and sandy it’s gotten in some areas of the city, where trees are scarce. Winds whipping dust and other particulates into the air (often aided by those insidious leaf-blowers, which were banned but are still active) add to the potential for asthma attacks. Oh, well, the city leaders would likely say, we’ll just pave over everything anyway, so who cares?
It can be said that trees are the lungs of the planet. To wilfully, needlessly destroy trees, above all in a city desperately in need of not just cooling but clean, fresh air, is to kill all Angelenos a little bit more. The shuttle could be either moved along some alternate route (although those in charge of the project say it’s not an option) or dismantled for its trip. The engineers claim this would damage the shuttle, but since it’s not going to fly again, that’s a poor excuse under the circumstances.
Merely re-planting trees–which will take decades to reach the size of those killed–is not a solution. It is not worth the harm that will be achieved to our health, over many years, therefore, for a brief, one-time-only trip for a piece of retired technology that is going to only gather dust in a museum.