I believe trees can save the world. For most of us, trees are such an ordinary sight we don’t give them a second thought. But, once you take the time to consider all the ways in which trees sustain both human life and the planet, you begin to realize the magnitude of their significance.
Trees create the very oxygen that we breathe and are critical for balancing the Earth’s atmosphere by filtering harmful carbon dioxide and toxins in the air. Tree shade cover cools the Earth’s temperature and can prevent heat sinks (also called heat islands) in urban areas. Their roots enable soil to store more water, thereby preventing flood and drought. Trees protect soil from wind and water erosion. When tree leaves fall, they provide the earth with organic nutrients producing fertile soil to grow the food we eat.
“On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.”
Scientists like Suzanne Simard and famed German forester Peter Wohlleben have found trees communicate and share resources through their roots and biological pathways of funghi in the soil called the “mycorrhizal network”. Through this web, trees share water and mineral nutrients, nourish saplings, send distress signals alerting their neighbors about drought or insect attacks and fend off hungry herbivores.
“Trees are far more alert, social, sophisticated—and even intelligent—than we thought.” ~ Smithsonian
Trees have been misunderstood for centuries. Dismissed as objects of nuisance or monetary gain, mankind hasn’t treated trees as sentient beings with their own life force and purpose. Incredibly, Wohlleben’s New York Times bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees recounts the studies where he discovered trees have families and nurse their children; they can even count, learn and remember. As Wohlleben states in this interview ,
“Scientists normally use language than cannot be understood. So I translated this, and surprise, surprise! Trees are living beings, trees are social, trees have feelings.”
Not only do trees have the potential to prevent and reverse the catastrophic effects of climate change, perhaps their greatest attribute, is their potential for teaching humanity empathy for the life force of beings so vastly different from themselves.
Once we recognize and acknowledge the critical role trees have in maintaining the delicate balance of life on Earth and are living creatures with a distinct consciousness we are just beginning to understand, we can change our relationship with them.
By increasing awareness, we can honor and hold reverence for trees, for nature and the Earth who sustain us at every moment.