President Trump on Wednesday pointed to the “wonder of God’s creation” in celebrating Earth Day and helping plant a tree with First Lady Melania Trump.
The president and his wife helped plant a maple tree on the south lawn of the White House on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and two days before Arbor Day. Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence also took part in the ceremony.
This year’s Earth Day celebration, Trump noted, is taking place amid a pandemic.
“In this time of trial, the beauty of springtime fills us with the peace and the hope of renewal,” Trump said in remarks prior to the planting of the tree. “… On this special occasion, we are renewing our strong national commitment on conserving the wonder of God’s creation. One of the most important ways we uphold this tradition is by protecting our priceless national parks and our public lands.”
Although the national parks have been mostly closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump said they will begin reopening “in line” with the White House’s guidelines for opening up America.
“On this Earth Day, we celebrate that America leads the world in environmental stewardship,” Trump said. “... [W]e continue to have among the cleanest air and cleanest water anywhere on the planet Earth.”
Trump also noted the country’s participation in the One Trillion Tree Initiative, which seeks to have one trillion trees planted worldwide by 2050 to fight climate change. Trump mentioned the initiative in his State of the Union this year. It is a global effort.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has promoted the initiative in the House, called trees the “lungs of the Earth.”
“They inhale carbon dioxide and they exhale oxygen,” he said. “When one trillion trees are planted around this Earth, that will remove the equivalent of two-thirds of all man-made carbon dioxide – or of all carbon – since the Industrial Revolution until today.”
Vice President Pence, speaking at the same ceremony, also mentioned faith.
“I’ve often thought that the three pillars of American greatness are our faith, our freedom, and our vast natural resources,” Pence said. “And today we celebrate that with the planting of this new tree.”
Photo courtesy: Public Domain/White House
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.