The Power of One: Wangari Maathai
How can we measure the power of one? It’s almost impossible to quantify. If we ever tried, we would surely underestimate the impact one person can have on our world. Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai showed us the power of one. Her Green Belt Movement, founded in Kenya in 1977, is responsible for planting over 47 million trees to date.
The power of trees can’t be easily quantified either. Trees provide basic services like shade, oxygen, food, medicine, and filtering and cleaning our drinking water. They remove some of the carbon dioxide we put in the atmosphere and store it safely for us. Trees help drive the water cycle.
The list of the benefits of trees is seemingly endless. But, as Wangari Maathai wrote on the Green Belt Movement’s website, “The planting of trees is the planting of ideas. By starting with the simple step of digging a hole and planting a tree, we plant hope for ourselves and for future generations.”
In 2007, Professor Maathai also inspired young Felix Finkbeiner, a German fourth grader who, at age 9, studied the climate crisis with his class. After making a presentation to his fellow students, Felix spontaneously said, “let’s plant one million trees in each country” and Plant For The Planet was born.
Today, over one million trees have already been planted in Germany and around the world children in over 90 countries are participating in the campaign. This past February, Felix addressed the United Nations.
In September, Wangari Maathai passed away after a long struggle with cancer. Powerful and heartfelt eulogies exist all over the internet for this amazing woman. But more awe inspiring than the beautiful words that were written about her, is the testament that her legacy will live on in the work of a generation of countless children like Felix around the planet.
On Friday, October 28th, the Green Belt Movement launched the“I am a hummingbird” campaign, an initiative to plant one billion trees worldwide in her memory.