Out on a limb..

Flashback Friday – I posted this on November 12, 2008.  No one cared.  I wonder what the number of trees is today?

How many trees are there in the world and how many trees does that equal per person in the world? I was challenged with a news story I heard this morning. This scientist worked out a way (using NASA satellites) to determine exactly how many trees there are in the world but then she wanted to know exactly how many trees that meant per person. In 2005 there were just over 400 billion trees (actually 400,246,300,201) and as of Dec. 31st of 2005 there were 6,456,789,877 people in the world for the most part. That would give each person 61 trees. This ecology professor (and I) were totally excited that we each got more than one tree apiece but then her husband (another scientist – microbiologist) burst our bubbles when he pointed out that he didn’t think that was too many considering how many trees are used for products that we use every day. Her husband has a way of deflating her just like my does with all his dang logic. So she then went on to make a list of everything that is a tree-based product. The list was immense! Here’s some of what they found: baseball bats, barrels, books, blocks, benches, crutches, coffee filters, guitars, grocery bags, pencils, pine oil, beds, billboards, buttons, candy wrappers, buttons, chewing gum, cork, crayons, egg cartons, fruit pie filling, kites, linoleum, luggage, paper, ping pong balls, chopsticks (especially the disposable kind), rubber, tambourines, telephone books, tires, toilet paper, turpentine, xylophones and yo-yos (the wooden kind).

This started to scare me. While it is important to note that wood is a renewable source, it is not always the fastest growing source. It still made me wonder if I was doing enough. I’ve been an avid recycler since I was 13. I’ve started programs at several places that I have worked. I begin to think of ways that I could do more. Most of our junk mail comes for my husband so I went on-line to opt him out on two web sites that help with that process. If only I could opt out of the “getting a new phone book thrown on my lawn once a month” club I would be in heaven. I am careful about what I purchase so that it doesn’t come with too much packaging. I use cloth bags to shop with. On that note: I discovered that my huge IKEA bag works perfect for holding all my Sam’s club food in the trunk. Looking at the list I thought that my recent cost cutting venture of checking books out of the library instead of buying not only saved money but saved trees as well. My coffee pot does not use filters – I was sure to make this a priority when we shopped around. Of course, I could plant a tree. There is a spot in my backyard where a small tree died so next spring I can replace it with a new tree. It just feels like I’m not doing enough. That is probably the overachiever in me. I welcome any suggestions that others might have for me.

She left us with a quote by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore:

Trees are the earth’s endless effort
To speak to the listening heaven.
To check out the story for yourself go here.

11 thoughts on “Out on a limb..”

  1. I started telling you all the good trees did but I back spaced and deleted. You know that. It is wonderful that each person has 61 trees a piece but I think it’s not near enough.

    We were raised with “waste not, want not’ and the importance of disturbing little of a natural environment. We were told the Native American rule of take one, leave two when choosing wild food to eat. Dad thought there would be a Silent Spring before Rachael Carson wrote it. It is a pleasant life when you become aware that each animal and plant plays a wonderful part in our life, even when it’s not in our backyard…I should have deleted this too. I think I’m preaching to the choir. Thank you for helping with the environment. Every thing makes a difference.
    Gail recently posted..How Not To Make A Checker Board Table…My Profile

    1. Oh I hate when that happens!! My computer had a problem for awhile and almost everything I typed got deleted at least once or twice before I could get it sent or saved. So annoying. As a farm kid, we did not waste anything. Everything gets used and reused until there is absolutely no other purpose for it. I was raised with a completely different appreciation for the circle of life than most people. No you shouldn’t delete it! It is always wonderful to hear from others just as passionate about the environment.

  2. I care but recently I have felt like a bad human when it comes to our resources. We recycle and always have but our city instituted green bins over a year ago and we just started using ours. Very interesting post. Would never have had cause to think about the number of trees per person but now I do.
    ashley recently posted..NaNoWriMo, 20 Things So FarMy Profile

    1. I have begun to think everything makes us feel bad/guilty. Like I use cloth diapers to save not having more trash but now I do more laundry and use more water. I think we have to try and feel good we make any effort at all!! There are so many people who just don’t care.

  3. What a very important and thoughtful post. I love trees and am fortunate to live in an area where they are plentiful. Some of the giant oak trees here are 300 years old. There are ordinances against chopping them down — even on your own property. If the government doesn’t catch you, you’ll probably find yourself looking down the barrel of the rifle of an angry neighbor. When I read stories about the depletion of the rain forest, I just want to cry. I read where most of that land is cleared to graze cattle for the beer industry. I seldom eat beef anymore. Yes, I’m a tree-hugger and proud of it!

    1. In high school, I had read McDonald’s got their beef from South America where they were bulldozing the rain forest to make more room for more cattle to keep up with the demand. I was upset because of the loss of trees and the fact I was from a KS farm and US farmers could have provided beef with no rain forests being harmed. Ironically I was a vegetarian at the time so I couldn’t boycott McDonald’s beef but I informed everyone I knew not to eat there. LOL Trees are what saved the Mid-West during the Dust Bowl. I think I have an appreciation for them saving my home.

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