“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett
Do you ever sit under a tree and think about how it got there? Was it a volunteer, meaning did it naturally regenerate and grow there? Or did someone years ago, maybe decades ago plant it? Did someone take the time to dig a hole and plant a seedling tree- hoping that one day it will grow up big and strong in hopes that someone sits under it and wonders or that wildlife is enriched by all the trees benefits. Seriously…how did it get there, what has the tree seen, what kind of tree is it even!? If only trees could talk; the stories they would tell! Would you take the time to listen?
A few days ago I had a couple stop by the office carrying a large garbage bag and inside was a tree branch! They began to tell me about the tree and how they had 35 acres of these trees! I looked at it, felt the needles and said well “its a spruce, but I do not want to give exact species without seeing them”. They had told me that the previous owner planted some 13,000 of these for a Christmas Tree Farm, but passed and the wife did not keep up with it so they just grew. I did not want to confirm the exact species because partly I wanted to see these trees in real life and because I was not 100% certain on it, I told them I did not want to say white spruce and be wrong, in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t. It was very bright green..but all I could think was black or white spruce for holiday trees but I just had a feeling it wasn’t because the branching and the pure green color. In the back of my mind I am thinking can this really be a Norway Spruce and is just a young or upper branch? But, Norway is not a common holiday tree here… This was a brain teaser at best! I could not get it off my mind, so I talked it out with a friend…walking through all the trees it could be.
Anywho, so as I drove through the muddy back-roads to their property, it hit me like a cold snowball in the face and I yelled (all alone in my truck) I KNEW IT!! As I pulled into their driveway I had the biggest smile on my face because right in front of me, plain as day, rows and rows and rows of NORWAY SPRUCE!!! I met up with the landowners and said, I am so happy I did not let you leave my office without setting up a visit-because these are Norway Spruce. In shock we began to walk towards the trees and I explained how Norway’s branches droop down. I have never seen a plantation of these species before, I was in awe. It was a beautiful day, reaching 64 degrees Fahrenheit but when we walked into the trees it dropped roughly 10 degrees! This beautiful, green carpet of trees stand tall all because some 26 years ago a gentleman decided to plant 13,000 trees!
Next time you pass a tree on a walk/run/bike or sit under one to cool down and take in its shady canopy take a moment to think- how did it get there? What has it seen? What species of tree is it? If you do not know what species of tree it is, take a picture or note things about it and go that extra step to look it up!
Mayor in TX: “I am going 100% renewable, but I am polar opposite of Al Gore”.
Al Gore: “Hey man, that works for me”!
This quote was quite funny, regardless if you like Al Gore or not Climate Change is real, renewable energy is becoming cheaper, and we need to do something about it before all is irreversible. This Mayor is entitled to his opinion and just because he does not like Al Gore it does not matter because by him still going 100% renewable is the step everyone needs to take. I am sure I will speak to folks who do not like me- but because the science, the facts, the reality IS real does not mean they will not change!
The third day, bittersweet. I was filled with empowerment and knowledge but sad to be taken out of my safe bubble. Last night, at the board meeting I was asked what was one thing I found most beneficial with this training. I responded with it was my safe place. I was given the opportunity to meet folks around the world and be in an environment to get the education, training, and empowerment to fight Climate Change. Climate change in my area is still a taboo statement, so being able to be surround by folks with the same passion was one of the most beneficial things for me.
The third day was geared towards using the knowledge we gained and present with the most impact. One of the sessions was all about words, body language and tone. According to The Truman Security Project words count for 7%, body language 55% and tone counts for 38% of the presentation. Basically, no one hears the content of the presentation unless all other things are in line. Another key point I took from this presentation was to identify shared values, when talking about Climate Change it can be difficult but for me personally I can connect “My Story” with folks by talking about trees. Since it is what I do, I know my landowners share the value of wanting to preserve their forests so that is my main hook to keep my audience engaged.
It is now time for me to take what I learned and find my path to Climate Reality and get the message out there! Even if I reach one person at a time- that one will tell another and it will spiral. We have to come together and make a change. This is the future of humanity- so wake up!
Oh, and I survived the three days…no flannel challenge!
“There is a device that pulls CO2 out of the air, and turns it into a useful product… It’s called a TREE”- Al Gore
Day two- uffda! After finally settling into hotel and coming down from the excitement of the first day I managed to get some sleep to get back to the venue for round two. Day two was primarily focused on Al Gore and dissecting the presentation for everyone to understand it in order for us to take it back with us and use in our personal presentations. Now, I could tell you all about this presentation but I won’t. I want to just talk about a couple of key stories and overview of a few things.
First of all, Al Gore is an incredible speaker- he is very passionate and has a way of empowering folks with the content by the tone of his voice. One minute he would be there speaking to us as a normal presentation then all of a sudden a huge build up would lead to a passionate tangent, where again he would yo-yo it back in and make perfect sense. Al Gore works on his presentations up to the last minute, right before he start presenting. The information is fresh and relates to the audience he is speaking to.
Al Gore split his 500+ slide presentation up into 3 sections and at the end of a section each table would submit a question for the Q & A part. I remember my table discussing what they wanted the question to be, listening to them talk I couldn’t help but interject. They had wanted to know if there were any technologies or solutions to trap CO2 or just take CO2 out of the air, I smiled and said “A TREE”. Now, remember these 5 gentlemen were brilliant but I think they over thought the question or wanted to know if there was a bigger solution! Through the day and half I knew these guys they already were caught up on my crazy love for forestry and trees so they were polite but still wanted to submit the question. After the question was asked to Al Gore…he talked a little about a contraption that can take out CO2 but has to be buried in the ground away from all things and left there- we don’t have space or time for this and it can only hold small amounts compared to the amount of CO2 in the air. After this long explanation this was said “There is a device that pulls CO2 out of the air, and turns it into a useful product… It’s called a TREE and many trees is a FOREST”! I was SHOCKED…I looked at my table with a huge smile and they were all smiling and cheering me on and I jokingly took a bow! I looked back at Al Gore made eye contact and was just on cloud 9!! Sometimes I know what I am talking about!
A fun yo-yo moment was when Al Gore was talking about aerial photos to see all sides of the Earth. Back in the day he tried to launch a satellite to get photos of the Earth from all sides, I think he mentioned a 24/7 photo set. Anyways, he told us all about this and how it did not get launched because no one thought they would want to see that many photos and such because it would be like “watching your grass grow, and no one likes that”. But this is not true because the lawn care is a 40 billion dollar industry! “I guess people do like to watch their grass grow”! -Al Gore Needless to say, Al’s satellite is finally in route and will reach destination in June and start sending photos!
I’ve touched on the subject of what trees can do for us before, but because I have been stuck on the topic I thought I would go more in depth on some of it. For the past month I have really been focusing on the research and outreach of what urban trees do for us. Sidebar, if we went to school together, we would make friendly jokes about urban forestry, but in reality in my position I bring up a lot of urban forestry topics to help my community all become intertwined with forestry. I try to bring the landowners with one tree together with the landowners with hundreds of trees.
Okay– back to my hidden connection that trees have with our everyday life. So to make it more believable I went out and measured one of the trees in my yard to explain. I rent a single family home here in Harrison, MI and have plenty of yard trees. I chose the one closest to the house. Its a norther red oak about 24 in diameter. Besides the obvious aesthetics and wildlife benefits of the acorns and the habitat for birds and squirrels and such it is also saving me money on my heating and cooling. According to the National Tree Benefit calculator I save $162 a year. This one tree alone takes up 2, 535 gallons of stormwater runoff each year. It does this by taking in water through the leaves, roots and branches. This in return prevents flooding of the yard and flooding around the house and under the house. It also helps prevent soil erosion around the house and foundation. Besides uptake of the water the tree is also saving energy for me. It will save on average 236 killowatts/ hour for me! It shades the house in the summer keeping my cooling costs down and helps through evapotraspiration keeping the temperature regulated around the house. And hey, not to mention it helps block the wind! This one tree also helps improve the air quality. It absorbs air pollutants and releases oxygen reducing the amount of pollutants I would encounter while in the yard. Trees reduce the risks of asthma, headaches, respiratory and heart disease but taking in these pollutants for us! SCORE!!!
So basically, as I step down from my soap box, the moral of this post is that trees are good and we should all plant a tree this spring. Tomorrow is International Forest Day (March 21st 2015) and we should all honor that by ordering our trees and preparing to plant for the future!
There is something magical about hugging a tree. I often get funny looks or people thinking I am down right crazy…but in reality, they are the ones that are crazy. Hugging a tree for a forester is beyond just hugging it because I can. Its respecting the one renewable resource that we can use for multiple different products, its about respecting the life of the tree that gives us cleaner air, cleaner water, reducing humidity and heat, and protects us against soil erosion and flooding! When I hug a tree I am thanking it for lining and shadowing our streets and making the neighborhood a better safer place for children and for the economy. Trees are proven to reduce crime in neighborhoods and they reduce electric bills, energy costs and stormwater run off in yards. Trees are just looked at like a large inconvenience sometimes and tree huggers are stereotypical people who don’t want trees to be cut down. But this isn’t always the case. Just because I hug trees- doesn’t mean I don’t see the value in cutting them down. We just have to be smart..cut a tree plant 2 more.
So, if your tree is feeling blue from this cold winter…hug it real tight!!!