If trees could talk, what would they say to us?

NOTE: pick the correct link

Maybe they are already talking to us and we are just not listening.

“You humans have a problem,” they might say. “It is called climate change. We can help, if you let us.”

Or maybe trees would say this: “We are really good at absorbing CO2, the gas whose rising concentrations in your atmosphere are messing with your weather.”

Here’s another possibility, if trees could only talk: “The temperature is rising and we can provide the shade essential to making your sidewalks walkable.”

And this: “We engage in a marvelous process called transpiration that releases moisture into the atmosphere. Read all about it on your web.”

Wedding couple embraces a large tree at Moanalua Gardens. This large tree is featured in an iconic advertisement for many decades and many Japanese visitors make homage to the park to visit and photograph the tree. 16 june 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

You talking to me? An iconic tree at Moanalua Gardens.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Climate change is real, but not enough human beings are listening. Here is more wisdom — from the trees:

  • “We do a great job in managing storm water so as to reduce runoff and pollution, protect the ocean, and recharge your aquifers.”
  • “We are very effective at removing particulate matter, a real health hazard, from the atmosphere.”
  • “We trees are the very best weapon for reducing the impact of heat islands, which result from too much concrete and too many impervious surfaces. Think surface parking lots.”
  • “When we trees are present, drivers slow down and there are fewer accidents. You folks in Honolulu have a terrible record of pedestrian fatalities.”
  • “We increase property values. If you want your home to be worth more, plant and maintain trees.”
  • “We save you money on your energy bill, whether you are a single family home dweller on an owner of an office building.”
  • “We trees beautify a neighborhood and thus contribute to visual splendor and a sense of well-being. Just compare two environs, one with us trees and one without.”
  • “It has even been documented that we trees improve academic performance when the students in a classroom look out on trees. and speed recovery of a patient from illness when her view is of us trees.”
  • “We trees are not making a bunch of bogus claims just to inflate our sense of self-worth. You humans have done the research to back up every statement we have made.”
  • “Go to the web and read all about the multiple benefits of us trees at this website and dozens of other useful sites.”
  • “So why do some people not like us? They claim we block their view; we block sunlight from reaching their photovoltaic panels; they have to rake up our leaves. Actually, planting the right tree in the right place avoids most of these problems. Consult with one of our good arborist friends. As to the leaves on the soil, let them lie. They serve to make sure the water in the ground feeds our roots and eventually reaches your valued aquifers.”
  • “School kids get our message. They are listening to us. Just look at the pictures they draw of us. Now, how about the rest of you folks?”
  • “The next time you are out walking, talk to us trees about all the environmental, social, economic, physical, and psychological benefits we can provide to you humans. We are willing to help you. All we need is for you to say ‘yes’ and then follow through on that ‘yes’.”
  • “So what can you do to make us trees more plentiful in your urban environment and in your country areas and in your forests? It’s good to set goals, which you have done in Honolulu, namely, ‘100,000 properly placed trees by 2025’ or a ‘35% Tree Canopy by 2035.’ However, it’s best if you actually reach those goals. Tell your mayor and your councilmembers and your state leaders that you want lots of us trees lining your city streets, filling your parks, gracing your school yards, cooling your surface parking lots, and populating your forests. Tell them to back up their verbal commitments with real dollars. Tell developers to include us trees, lots of us, in their new and existing commercial and residential developments. Support the organizations and City and County and state agencies that are out there working to increase the number of us trees in your community. Plant, maintain, and love us trees on your own property.”

Listen to what our trees are telling us about the many benefits that they provide. They can make life better for all of us if only we will let them.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

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