What does this have to do with Richardson, you might be thinking.Trees are a valuable tool in the fight against climate change. It's the ultimate in carbon-capture technology — but all natural, and without the licensing fees.
On July 11th, volunteers in India took this old-school climate-fighting tool to a whole new level by planting a record number of trees in a single day, beating Pakistan’s previous record of planting 847,275 trees in 2013.
It took 800,000 volunteers to plant just under 50 million tree saplings along India's roads, rail lines, and on public lands. This is all a part of India's commitment to reforest 12 percent of its land — a commitment made at the Paris climate talks last year.
It makes me pine for (pun intended) Richardson's late, lamented "Tree the Town" program. You remember, that's the 2010 program championed by former city council member Amir Omar to plant 50,000 trees in Richardson before 2020.
India is much, much bigger than Richardson, granted, but if India can plant 50 million trees in one day, Richardson's goal of 50,000 trees in ten years doesn't seem all that ambitious in comparison, does it?
Yet "Tree the Town" was suspended in 2011 because of a drought. The drought was broken in 2015, but the "Tree the Town" program never came back. It was forgotten, maybe deliberately. It makes me wonder whether the drought was really the reason why it was killed in the first place, or whether the drought was only a convenient excuse.
Perhaps it was too closely associated with one former city council member who dared challenge the status quo in Richardson.
Or perhaps it was too closely associated with something mentioned in the first sentence of that news story above: "Trees are a valuable tool in the fight against climate change." The national Republican Party met in Cleveland last week and adopted a platform that explicitly rejects the joint actions called for in the Paris climate agreement. Is it unreasonable to suspect that city government in Richardson, Texas, might also harbor sympathy for that point of view?
Until the real reason why "Tree the Town" was killed is revealed, something about noses, spite, and faces irresistibly comes to mind. In any case, my congratulations go to the tree-huggers (er, planters) in India.