20 July 2009

why i'm a treehugger

Loving a giant cedar, Glacier National Park

Trees are ridiculously important to the continuation of the human species.

This is what trees do for us:
  • Provide us with oxygen to breathe
  • Filter pollutants from the air
  • Filter pollutants from water
  • Create much-needed shade
  • Cool the planet
  • Provide habitat for birds, bugs, squirrels, monkeys, and many other creatures
  • Create nutrients needed for mushrooms to grow (yum!)
  • Improve our mood
  • Increase property value
  • Some even provide food (fruit and nuts)
Yet, what do we do in return?
  • Chop 'em down.
In the short history of the US, we've destroyed over 95% of old growth forest. Much of this is to create paper. Paper to write on, to wipe our noses with, to wipe our derrieres with. In this clip, David de Rothschild explores this phenomenon:

So what can you do about it?
  • Reduce your paper use. Tips on how here and here
  • If you do buy paper products, be sure they have high post-consumer recycled content and that they are not chlorine bleached
  • Hug a tree once in a while, it really does feel good!

One last note on tree appreciation. William McDonough said in his TED talk,
Imagine this design assignment - design something that...
Sequesters carbon,
Fixes nitrogen,
Distills water,
Accrues solar energy as fuel,
Makes complex sugars and food,
Creates microclimates,
Changes colors with the seasons,
and Self-replicates.

Why don't we knock that down and write on it.
If we all stopped to think of trees this way, perhaps there would be more of them around to help us enjoy life as we know it on this planet.

Check out William McDonough's full TED talk, with lots of other important ideas: