01/07/2014 04:41 pm ET Updated Mar 09, 2014

Climate, Trees, and Legacy (VIDEO)

One profound psychological obstacle to advancing climate change as an American concern no less pressing than youth unemployment and sky-high health insurance costs is the paucity of possibilities for individuals to step into doable and deeply satisfying action.

Truly, climate change is such a horrifying, unintended outcome of the typical American lifestyle that unless there is something we can easily do about it -- at least symbolically -- then our instincts rightfully lead us to ignore or deny the evidence. If disaster looms on our watch, give us a heroic and fulfilling role to play!

Protests do appeal to some, and the sense of communal participation in marching together or getting arrested is emotionally compelling regardless of outcome. But opportunities for those who shy away from spectacle trend more in the direction of quietly making a statement by example: purchasing solar panels and a hybrid car or riding a bike to work.

Soon, perhaps, a new way to lead by example will become available to gardeners and tree-lovers, even the poorest among us.

In the video embedded below, my conservationist wife (Connie Barlow) offers "Leaf a Legacy" as an action that not only will help America's beloved forest trees head north in tandem with shifting plant zones. Individuals who choose to participate by planting seeds on their own or community properties will also implicitly be making a statement:

"Yes, climate change is real. It is so real and so relentless that professional foresters are already replanting timber harvests with seeds borne by trees from hundreds of miles south (or hundreds of meters downslope in mountainous regions)... and I am helping them out in my own small way."