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Saturday, September 5, 2015

TREES: Are they Bad for the Environment?

I'm not into poetry, but can practically recite Trees, by Joyce Kilmer:


I think that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; 

A tree that looks at God all day, 
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 

A tree that may in Summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain. 

Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree.

Yes, Joyce Kilmer is a man.  Written a little more a century ago (1913), the poem does not refer to any tree in particular.  It is not in any top poems list, but there is something simple and memorable about Trees.

I just learned today that Planet Earth has more than 3 trillion trees.  Thus, there are 428 trees for each person.   By country:
  • Russia (642 billion)
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • U.S. (228 billion)
The United Nations launched their Billion Tree Campaign in 2006.  They exceeded their goal, planting 7 billion by 2009 and 13 million trees by 2011.  Interesting that I can't find how they've done since then.  Also, 13 billion trees represent only one half of one percent of all the trees now growing.  In any case, the top three nations are:
  • China (2.8 billion)
  • India (2.1 billion)
  • Ethiopia (1.6 billion)
That's from Wikipedia, and those sums are over nearly a decade.  Something is seriously wrong because Paper University reports the USA plants 2.5 billion trees every year, and we today have more trees than ever in the past.  Same for Europe.  However, all reports seem to indicate that the world has only, perhaps, half the number we once had!

All the above seems sensible, but, read this, and wonder:

Take a straw poll on the street today and ask anyone about trees and you will likely hear one of the following sound bites (or many variations thereof):
    1. Trees are the ‘lungs’ of the Earth
    2. Trees ‘breathe’ CO2
    3. Without trees there would be less (or even no) oxygen
    4. Trees are a permanent store for carbon
    5. Deforestation directly contributes to global warming
It all sounds very reasonable and plausible. But guess what? NONE OF IT IS TRUE. This is a very controversial thing to state, so let’s flesh out the details a little.  (Want to know more?  Click here.)

Shockingly enough, then, TREES COULD WELL BE TERRIBLE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!!!.  The New York Times had an op-ed last year entitled:

In essence, trees absorb sunlight, which is bad.  Secondly, they release volatile organic compounds, leading to methane and ozone.  Third, what happens to a tree when it dies?  Upon decay all the stored carbon is subsequently released as carbon dioxide, and, worse, methane, which is, molecule for molecule, 25 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide.  At best, planting trees buys you a few years, but only to emit truly toxic Greenhouse gases.  

Amazingly enough, scientists are not absolutely convinced whether trees are good or bad for global climate change.  What is my attitude on this dilemma?  My SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth, published 8 years ago, reported on this problem.  Apparently, no one has since then taken a comprehensive look at this potential catastrophe!  Incredible.


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