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South Carolina Honors College

The Day I Felt My Air Taken from Me

Dear Mr. McMaster,  

When I think about South Carolina I think of southern hospitality. I think of green grass for miles and beautiful trees. There are typical well-mannered southerners to go along with this perfect picture. Maybe they’re working at a farmers’ market or visiting Thompson Farm in Conway with the family to get the perfect pumpkin in the fall season. We would usually think about the big oak trees changing into the amber shade ... but soon we won’t have enough oak trees or any trees at all to even tell if it’s fall.  

We moved to Socastee, South Carolina, when I was five and some of my earliest memories consist of playing outside and being amazed at the way nature changed with the seasons. I’m seventeen now and lucky to see a full two acres of trees without them getting chopped down or planned to be chopped down. I feel awful for younger kids now, considering they have to grow up in a world with barely any beautiful trees all in one place. I suppose they will just tell the seasons by the months or how hot or cold it is. But when I was little, we could immediately tell by the colors the trees would turn. I remember learning in the first grade about how the trees helped us and gave us air. We would color the leaves of trees based on each season. Are teachers even going to teach children those lessons anymore? I don’t think children will see enough trees to tell what it means when the seasons are changing.  

Losing these trees also means animals are losing their homes. This loss comes with temperatures changing and making it unbearable for animals to live in those conditions. Deforestation along with climate change can modify what organisms can survive in their own types of ecosystems. This is the way these organisms have adapted to living and the only way they’ve learned to survive. The February 7, 2019 issue of National Geographic reported that “70 percent of the earth’s land animals live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation.” I watched hundreds of trees across from my neighborhood plowed down for a new housing development. It hurt to watch and I mean that. I could feel my own air being taken from me right in that moment.  

So tell me: how is it fair that we destroy the homes of animals to build another housing development? Right now a majority of the homes in Hampton Park, the new subdivision I watched trees get torn down for in Socastee, are sitting empty.  

Deforestation is like cutting off our natural oxygen supply. When trees are destroyed carbon dioxide increases, resulting in less oxygen and more greenhouse gas released in the air. The decreased tree vegetation can’t interact with our air, increasing global warming and chances of flooding. Cutting our trees mindlessly will do nothing but harm towards anything that’s alive and needs oxygen.  

Some may say clearing land is necessary for farming. But trees protect the soil and deforestation depletes the fertility of this soil, making it no longer farmable. The result is fewer crops for us and no homes for the organisms in the only place where they know how to live.  

No doubt our population will keep growing, but the oxygen in our atmosphere can and will keep reducing. So as a state we need to come together and use reusable bags, recycle, save energy, and most important, stop cutting down all of our trees unnecessarily. We need to come together as a state and ask ourselves, “Do we really need another neighborhood?” We need to come together as a state and reflect on what we are doing and if it is a humane decision. We need to come together as a state to think about the organisms that will have no place to live. Many times we cut trees down with no plan of what will go there afterwards.  

I can’t speak for everyone, but I want my kids to grow up in a place where they know what color a tree turns in autumn and what animals live in those trees – not what animals used to live in them.  

Sincerely, a local air breather on behalf of the youth of South Carolina,  

Bryanna Warner 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.