Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tree Thursday - 5 Ways to Look at a Tree

5 Ways to Look at a Tree

1. Commodity   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" could 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
2. Oxygen Source             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 the process just described, trees also serve as carbon sinks, e.g. as Wise Geek tells us, 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.
3. Home               From nearly microscopic insects to camouflaged reptiles to feathered friends to wily primates and beyond, each tree is a vast, thriving eco-system in and of itself. The destruction of even a single small tree not only disrupts natural cycles, it also sentences countless creatures to death. More than 1000 different species of insects have been living in just one kind of rainforest tree.
4. Flood Prevention        Deforestation negatively impacts the amount of water in the soil and groundwater and the moisture in the atmosphere. Without tree roots to hold soil in place and fight erosion, we are seeing more runoff and less sediment deposit after storms. This results in higher levels of chemicals in our water and far more flooding. Over the course of a half-century, a single tree can recycle $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion.
5. Beauty             As Henry David Thoreau says: "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."
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now."
(Chinese Proverb)

Reality Check: 80% of the World's Forests Are Already Gone