By Karen Dombrowski-Sobel
While on a yearlong road trip from New York through the country, I found myself quite upset by the way trees were being mistreated everywhere. The anger I felt was the impetus to write a book, Trees Speak, Healing Ourselves and Our Planet, using my photographs of trees.
1. The very existence of trees is vitally important to all living things on this planet. They help sustain life, add to our enjoyment with their beauty, heal us with their medicines and other gifts, and rejuvenate our spirits.
2. It is good to note that as the world changes, everything adapts the best it can to the changes. Trees seem to play a big role in the natural adaptation of those changes. In their infinite natural wisdom, trees are working to make the changes better for all living things.
3. The average tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide every year, reducing many of our pollutants. Trees cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, and absorbing such pollutants as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Trees remove this air pollution by lowering air temperature through respiration and by retaining particulates.
4. Trees fight erosion, conserve rainwater and reduce water runoff and sediment deposits after storms. A large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground in one day and discharge it into the air. Trees can either store harmful pollutants or actually change the pollutant into less harmful forms. Trees filter sewage and farm chemicals, reduce the effects of animal wastes, clean roadside spills and water runoff into streams.
5. Phytoremediation is a term used to describe the process by which trees absorb toxins, chemicals and other dangerous pollutants that have entered the soil. In Latin, Phyto means “plant” and remedium means to “restore balance”. Yes, plants actually help to remove the toxins from our soil, air and water.
6. It has recently been found that trees actually “fix” themselves and take the amount of nitrogen from the air necessary to keep a healthy balance in the soil. This author believes the trees are already healing the planet for us.
7. Trees are considered the “LUNGS” of the planet. It is CO2
(carbon dioxide) that is one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect. Mature trees can absorb roughly 48 pounds of CO2 a year. The tree in turn releases enough oxygen each year to sustain two human beings. Trees remove 100 to 120 billion tons of carbon each year from man-made sources such as cars, trains, planes, and burning oil, coal and natural gas
8. Our planet is going through some major climactic and sociological shifts. While many people regard trees as mere commodities, maybe it’s time to take a closer look and be grateful for all that trees give us. Trees are the oldest, largest and, in my opinion, the most important natural resource we have.
Karen Dombrowski-Sobel is an award winning photographic artist residing in Boulder. Author of Trees Speak, Healing Ourselves and Our Planet, her gift of photographs and valuable environmental information to future generations. A gardener and lover of the environment, she spends her time hiking and sharing her knowledge of nature and spirit.