For over 300 million years trees have played a vital role on Earth. They help create clean, fresh air through photosynthesis, through which they combine carbon dioxide and water with energy from the Sun to produce sugar and oxygen. Water consumed through their roots makes chemical compounds that sustain not only their growth, but other life. A hub of biodiversity, trees are represented by an abundance of species, and are host to many birds, insects, animals, and plants. Topping it off, they are amazing historians of climate! Their internal rings not only indicate their age, but show changing patterns over time: darker, bigger circles indicate periods of healthy growth, due to warm, wet weather (typically Spring and Summer), while lighter, smaller circles, reveal more vulnerable periods.
Extreme heat and drought precipitate wildfires, one cause of deforestation, and the summer of 2021 is predicted to be one of the worst seasons yet; already 10,000 acres have burned in California since the beginning of May. However, the action of clearing a wide range of trees may be attributed to other natural examples of climate change: hurricanes, floods, and parasites. Human activities, including over-farming, cattle breeding, infrastructure development, and extraction of natural resources (timber, coal, and oil) similarly cause deforestation, as our constant consumption of certain goods, like coffee, cocoa, and meat, drives the global impact of international trade on the world's forests.
How can we be so aware of climate issues without really listening to Nature's warning signs, or changing our behavior to ensure the protection of one of our most valuable resources? What would say Methuselah, the oldest living tree, a bristlecone pine dating 4,852 years from California's White Mountains? Trees, in fact, are central to human learning and serve to teach. With its roots in Scandinavia, a forest school serves to provide a specialized learning approach that allows young children to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. Outdoor education continues to be a valuable part of school curriculum, in summer camps, and throughout urban areas.
What Trees Tell Us explores the beauty, importance, and conditions of the trees that surround us, while drawing attention to the pressing issue of deforestation, a leading cause of long-term change in average weather patterns. It includes books that highlight city efforts toward a greater green, and encourages us to become more knowledgeable of the variety of trees that grace our neighborhoods, parks, woods, and planet.
At the Everett News Cafe, you'll find a new book collection every few weeks that relates to current affairs, education, or learning environments.
Poster Image: Textures: Feeling On the Floor Of the Forest, Ziegfeld Collection of International Children's Art, Courtesy of Teachers College, Columbia University
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Last Updated: 12:00 pm, Tuesday, Jul 20 , 2021