Seven Wees to Say Trees

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Facts About Trees: 7 Ways to See Trees 
by Mickey Z.
Sure, trees are fun to climb, to swing on, to picnic under or to hug. But we’ve reached a critical point on Planet Earth. 80% of the world’s forests are already gone, and the planet is running a little short on green. Without proper appreciation and love for our barked co-inhabitants, well… we’re screwed.
 
Too often, our verdant companions are seen as nothing more than commodities. Dig this: according to the Wisconsin Paper Council, an “interesting rule of thumb is that an acre of forested land may yield an average of 10 – 15 cords of wood when harvested at maturity—depending not only on the size of the trees, but how productively the land has been managed.”
 
One cord can typically yield any of the following:
 
12 dining room table sets (seating eight)
250 copies of the Sunday New York Times
942 one-pound books
460,000 personal checks
4,384,000 postage stamps
7,500,000 toothpicks
 
Astoria, on the other hand, needs trees, not toothpicks.
 
Here are seven simple ways to see your leafy neighbors in a new light.
 

1. Oxygen Source

By one estimate, over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen and provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control. The process is rather fundamental: during photosynthesis, a tree “inhales” CO2 from the air and then separates the carbon from the oxygen molecules. The carbon is absorbed by the tree, which then “exhales” pure oxygen back into the air for us to breathe. In this process, trees also serve as carbon sinks. As Wise Geek explains, trees “naturally absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, sequestering the carbon and converting it into mass while releasing the oxygen back into the atmosphere.” Such carbon sinks offset carbon dioxide emissions and reduce climate change.

2. Home

Trees are home to many creatures, from microscopic insects to camouflaged reptiles to feathered friends to wily primates and beyond. More than 1000 different species of insects live in just one kind of rain forest tree. Each tree is a vast, thriving ecosystem in and of itself. The destruction of even a single small tree not only disrupts natural cycles, but also kills countless creatures.

3. Medicine

For 5.1 billion people—85% of the world’s population—herbs are the primary source for medicines. Even in a modern society like the U.S., plants are the original source materials for as much as 40% of the pharmaceuticals in use.

4. Shade and Protection

Due to ozone depletion, we earthlings now endure increased amounts of potentially dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Our tree friends give us shade and protect us from skin cancer.

5. Pollution Reduction

Trees absorb pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, ozone and nitrogen oxides, through the stomata in the surface of their leaves. Up to a 60% reduction in street-level particles has been found on tree-lined streets and roadways. Trees also muffle urban noise pollution.

6. Flood Prevention

Deforestation negatively impacts the amount of water in the soil and groundwater and the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. Holding soil in place, tree roots fight erosion. Fewer trees leads to more runoff and less sediment deposit after storms which, in turn, puts more chemicals in our water and increases flooding. Over the course of a half-century, a single tree can recycle $37,500 worth of water and control $31,250 worth of soil erosion.

7. Beauty

Some people see trees as lumber and a source of profits. Others see trees as kindred spirits, fellow travelers and stores of wisdom from which we can learn. As Henry David Thoreau said, “I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.”

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I’ve come here to celebrate Earth Day, so please
Come join me and help spread the message I bring.
Be a friend to the trees and to each living thing.
 
Let’s all plant more trees
 

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