Editors Blog

Murphy's Law: As Beautiful as a Tree

January 28, 2008

Joyce Kilmer would turn over in her grave if she knew the lengths the global community has gone to exploit the subject of one of her best known poems.

Everyone seems intent on comparing the saving of building more efficient cars, of building more efficient toasters, of building more efficient heat pumps, and yes, the more efficient use of anything to - saving trees. I like trees. I used to climb them when I was a youth; sit there for abnormal and unhealthy lengths of time. It was certainly peaceful and a great place to visit. However, this penchant for comparing everything to saving trees just doesn’t make any sense.

Of course, I know that planting more trees and killing fewer trees lends itself to general good health for the planet and for people. The benefits of chlorophyll and all that photosynthesis stuff are well documented. I’ll admit I wish the world wasn’t being deforested at such a rapid rate as the demands of human population growth skyrocket. By 2030, projections are that 80 percent of the world’s forest will have been lost and with them hundreds of thousands of species of plants and animals.

But, here is what Kilmer would have a tree over: For example, “… comparative energy savings are equivalent to approximately 4.47 million acres of trees, an area larger than the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined”, “… energy savings equal to planting 6.07 million acres of trees, an area the size of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware.”

All together, I figure the never-ending tree comparisons total up to approximately 2.43 trillion acres, or roughly the equivalent of the United States.

If anyone were willing to clear all the buildings and pulverize the concrete, which country do we choose to plant all those trees? I don’t think Uncle Sam and John Q. Public will stand for it. And, the people in rural Brazil are tired of living dirt poor.

So when it comes to the tree comparisons, it just ain’t happening. I’m not feeling it.

Now if we were talking about barley and hops, I might relate.

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