Tree Trouble: Getting to The Root of The Problem

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Tree Trouble: Getting to The Root of The Problem

Benjamin Tooker, Writer

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Students returning to Middletown North following the fall recess did not expect much to change save for their classes. Nonetheless, they were shocked when the courtyard was missing arguably its most  defining aspect-its trees.  Once akin to a forest path with its varied terrain and extensive shading, the courtyard seems more like a confined space now. Wood chips lie in wake of the trees, and bare earth is shaded by  a contrasting backdrop of green grass and shrubbery. Additionally, without the presence of the trees, classrooms once shaded are now blinded with direct sunlight.

The Middletown North courtyard trees have been removed to improve the quality of the solar panels installed.

To many, it would seem that the decision on behalf of the administration was unnecessary. However, before positions can be taken, the question as to why the trees were cut down in the first place must be addressed.   According to Dr. Patricia Vari-Cartier, “The school district spent thousands of dollars to install solar panels atop High School North. The trees blocked the sunlight needed by the panels. Casting shadows over the solar panels would impede their efficiency.”

In a turn of events, it is revealed what seems like an environmentally unjust measure was taken to make way for something environmentally sound. Dr. Cartier added, “Efficient solar panels reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and reduce costs overall. Every dollar we save on energy costs can be redirected to educational materials and programs.”

However, although invested in improving the environment, she also recognized the negative outcomes of removing the trees. “[The trees] also helped ‘scrub’ the air, absorbing thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide and releasing life-supporting oxygen. Who doesn’t want less CO2 and more O2?”Despite being initially disappointed with the removal of the trees, many students and faculty members have come to acknowledge the importance of efficient solar energy.  Some students stated that they were going to miss the shade provided by the courtyard, although they understood the reasoning behind the removal of the trees.  One teacher offered that while it was nice to have trees in the courtyard, it is also good to have solar panels.

All things considered, there is no definite answer as to whether the trees should or should not have been cut down. Dr. Cartier also realizes how confusing the answer to this calamity is. “ No one is 100% right, and no one is 100% wrong.  There is no easy answer to some issues. What is clear is that people need to look at both sides before forming an intractable opinion.”  This is perhaps the best answer of all.  Perhaps both students and staff should consider the positive aspects of this change and how it can benefit the school.   

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