Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Arbor Day!

Oh what a glorious day to celebrate one of Earth's greatest treasures! We live peacefully with them and depend on them so much, but we too often take them for granted. We need trees more than they need us.

A story in USA Today this week announced that a study showed the United States experienced a greater percentage of forest loss from 2000 to 2005 than did any of the other top seven most heavily forested nations. Shame on us! How could this be? Why are we killing all the trees? Read on to see what the story had to say:

The United States lost more than 46,000 square miles of forest in those years, a size roughly equivalent to the state of Pennsylvania. That's about 6% of the nation's forested land.

"That's the most of the seven countries that have over 1 million square kilometers of forest," says study lead author Matthew Hansen of South Dakota State University.

Worldwide, researchers determined that the globe lost forest cover of nearly 400,000 square miles — roughly 3% of the world's forested areas — during the first half of the last decade. The other countries in the study were Canada, Russia, China, Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The one part of the contiguous USA that experienced the most forest loss was the Southeast, a large chunk of which lost more than 10% of its forest cover from 2000 to 2005, the year for which the most recent data were available.

Hansen points out that the forest loss in the USA isn't necessarily permanent: "This does not mean that (the forests) do not regenerate, and we make no statements whatsoever about sustainability," he says. "But, compared to other regions of the world, a lot is going on."

A lot is going on is an understatement! Why all this destruction to our trees? Paper! Paper is the number one cause of forest lost. Mom remembers being in the corporate world and people talking about saving paper so that they wouldn't kill any more trees. Kill them indeed!

What's that you say? You don't use a lot of paper in your everyday life? What about all the stuff you use that's made made from paper? Americans are obsessed with stuff at every level. Just think about all the 'disposable paper' you either use on a daily basis: toilet paper, paper towels, facial tissue, newspapers, magazines, take out food container, receipts, packaging. The list just goes on and on.

Most of these items are created from virgin paper meaning a tree was cut down just for the purpose of making that item. Clearly there are products on the marketplace that use recycled paper, even post-consumer recycled. This is the paper we should be using to create consumer goods. These are the products we should be buying if we want trees on our planet. But why do we need them so much? They're just trees, right?

The most important thing trees give us is oxygen. It doesn't even seem fitting to call oxygen (O2) a thing because next to water, we need it to live. Period. Everything else is purely secondary from a biological perspective. We are totally and completely dependent on plants and trees for oxygen and they are dependent on us. But why and how?

Take a deep breath. Suck in all that fresh, clean air and then let it all out. What comes out when you exhale? Good old CO2. But wait. Where did the oxygen you breath come from?

In the carbon-oxygen exchange, or cycle as I call it, the exchange of CO2 from us to trees and of O2 from trees to us is continuous. Called respiration, the CO2 that we exhale and that trees use is as important to them as the O2 they give us to breathe. One cannot occur without the other so if we don't have trees we don't have oxygen. And that would be a problem.

In addition to the CO2 trees receive from us, they also absorb CO2 from other things, like automobiles, manufacturing, etc. It is when too much CO2 becomes trapped in the atmosphere that problems occur like they are today. One reason we are experiencing the climate changes we are is because we are cutting down trees at an alarming rate. Mom clearly remembers being in Costa Rica and watching as people clear cut the rainforest to make way for cattle ranches. Just think about that for a second. Old growth stands of trees being cut so that cows could graze on grasslands. Sounds ridiciulous, doesn't it? The same thing is happening all over the world as entire stands of forest are cut in the Amazon, Indonesia, and elsewhere. Without the trees, the world's climate problems are going to get worse.

But how many trees do we need? Clearly we don't need all the trees on Earth and even if we cut some down surely we could plant more, right? Wrong! An area of plants of about 58 square feet is needed to supply sufficient oxygen for just one person. Multiply that by 6 billion (and growing) and the figures are mind blowing. Hey wait! These figures don't even take into account the area of plants that pugs need. Keep multiplying people! Even planting new trees doesn't really fix the problem because new trees called seedlings, cannot absorb the CO2 that tall, old trees can. Replacing one with the other is not solving the problem.

But trees do even more for us than simply providing us with oxygen and absorbing CO2. Trees planted around your home can shade it, thus lowering your electricity bills because the need for air conditioning is lessened. They also slow stormwater runoff and protect the soil. By acting as natural reservoirs they protect watersheds, without which we wouldn't have clean water.

Trees clean our water and air by absorbing pollutants. Many animals call trees home, like my bird and squirrel friends, and many use tree berries as food. Where would all these animals go if they didn't have trees? I think you know the answer.

Let's not forget how beautiful and majestic trees are. What pug doesn't love to sit underneath a tree on a hot summer day and eat a Frosty Paw? Ahhh, the shade trees provide me is immeasureable. I wouldn't be able to stay outside for very long if it weren't for trees.

So on this Arbor Day, as the leaves on the trees are rustled by the gentle breeze, let's give thanks to trees everywhere. They are more important today than ever before.

I decided to give the tree in front of our house a big hug of thanks. Thank you my tree friend, for standing tall even when you were tired. For changing with the seasons despite your desire to move. For letting the mommy robins sing on your branches. And for giving me oxygen so that I may continue to live. I love you and can't imagine life without you.


Those Elgin Pugs said...

Oh Stubby!
What a sweet Post! I do love seeing your face! You looks so cutes hugging that trees! Mommy said that next time she sees you...she will read you and I one of her favorite stories called The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein! Maybe your Mommy has already read its to yous?...if not...we can cuddle ups and listens to its.
xoxoxo Your Josie Girl

Stubby said...

Hi Josie Girl! I love that story! Tell your mommy to read it to you today to celebrate Arbor Day.

I wanted to hug all the trees on the block but I was getting blown away by the wind. Thankfully, all the trees were standing tall and protecting me.

Stubby xoxo

THE PUGLET said...

Dude, you're right. Trees rock. Next time I see a tree I'm going to hug it BEFORE I pee on it.

Stubby said...

Hi Puglet! You crack me up! I love my tree and pee on it every morning. The pic was taken at lunchtime so I just hugged and hugged. Pug hugs for all trees everywhere!

Stubby xoxo

Wilma said...

Hi Stubby,
How sweet of you to give your big tree such a nice hug. One of my favorite things about trees is the shade they make, so I can cool off after roasting in my sunny sun.

Yoda & Brutus said...

Such a great post as always Stubby!! We moved into a neighborhood that kept all of the old growth trees instead of bulldozing them all when they built the houses. That is part of the reason that mom & dad built this house here.

Pugs & Kisses,

Yoda & Brutus

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Hi Stubby
I want to come hug your tree.
And then I think I will go into the forest and hug every tree there is.
I cry big tears when I see those magestic trees be murdered.
Thank you for speaking out.


Winston (smilingpug) said...

OMD I couldn't imagine life with out trees!

What would shade me from the hot suns in summer? What would keep our air cleans?
What would mum have in her garden?
where would we hang the hammock from?

but most important....... were would I lift my leg!!!! there are only so many fire hydrants around!


Stubby said...

Hi Wilma! I love to cool off under the shade of my tree too. I also love the way trees smell, especially after it rains. Please hug your trees today.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Yoda & Brutus! Your parents were so smart to build a house in a neighborhood with lots of old trees. You must have lots of nice shade to cool off with on those hot summer days.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Tweedles! You can definitely hug my tree! Jump in your magic bubble and come visit me. We will hug all the trees in all the forests we find. We will not let any trees be murdered because we need them and they are our friends.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Winston! You've found so many wonderful ways to live with trees. I bet your hammock is nice and steady because of the big trees holding it in place. Just imagine if someone cut them down.

I know what you mean about lifting your leg. I mostly pee like a girl because it's hard for me to lift my leg, but every once in a while I will lift it high up on a tree. The trees our pee to grow, don't they?

Stubby xoxo

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Oakley and Swisher said...

Cool post Stubb man and we love your picture at the end. Thank for all this info, I think a lot of people just don't realize how wasteful we are as a society with paper products.

Lots of licks,
Oak and Swish


That's a beautiful tree! Thanks for sharing such a sweet post with us!

Riley and Star.

Apollo said...

Hear Hear! I'm kissing all the trees in my backyard too!

Stubby said...

Hi Oakley & Swisher! We are soooo wasteful with paper products. It makes me crazy to see how people treat everything as disposable. We must make changes or there won't be any trees left.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Riley & Star! There are lots of beautiful trees in my neightborhood. We having a huge weeping willow that lives next to the pond and it blows ever so gently in the breezes. I love to play under it where it keeps me cool.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Apollo! Good job kissing all the trees in your yard. I saw some pictures from your birthday pawty and it looks like you guys had a pawsome time. I'm going to get Mom to take me to Indy this summer so we can hang out.

Stubby xoxo