For the Love of Trees
~November 16, 2011
Much has been said about the benefits of trees in our neighbourhoods – especially urban communities.
– Trees sequester carbon and produce prodigious amounts of oxygen.
– Trees filter pollutants from the air.
– Trees filter toxins from water and slow the ‘run off’ in extreme weather.
– Trees shade us and our living environment to the extent that they can save us hundreds of dollars a year on air conditioning costs and (placed properly) an evergreen tree can shelter a home from the cold blast of winter winds, thereby saving us heating costs.
– Trees are essentially noiseless (unless you count the sound of the wind passing through them), they don’t bark, require oil changes, diaper changes, fluid top ups, cleaning or feeding. Watering, yes.
Imagine a machine that could deliver so many benefits. What would you pay for it?
For some reason we seem stuck on the practical benefits of the trees that we live with. How much money they save us, how much comfort they give us. But has anyone actually sat down to quantify the unquantifiable? The ‘cheer’ that trees give us as urban dwellers?
In a recent issue of Canadian Business magazine, author David Owens’ new book Green Metropolis was reviewed. In his book Mr. Owen kicks holes in many of the traditional feel-good urban eco-projects, except for one: planting trees.
A quote from his book: “Planting trees along city streets, always a popular initiative, has high environmental utility, but not for the reasons that people usually assume: trees are ecologically important in dense urban areas not because they provide temporary repositories for atmospheric carbon — the usual argument for planting more of them — but because their presence along sidewalks makes city dwellers more cheerful about dwelling in cities. Unfortunately, much conventional environmental activism has the opposite effect, since it reinforces the view that urban life is artificial and depraved, and makes city residents feel guilty about living where and how they do.”
Now I don’t know David Owen and I have not read his book, but I think that it is great that he recognizes that trees are more than just natures clean air machines. They are just great to be in the company of.
Trees are fun.
We climb them, picnic under them, swing from them and cool our heels under them.