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Give thanks for the trees: there's good reason they've been worshipped for centuries.

COUNTRYSIDE: Our weather has reached "Biblical"-type storm effects. The current system (written in mid-June) is said to affect 75-million Americans, and two-thirds of the nation is rather warm. People say there's nothing we can do about it. Wrong. Actually, you can do a great deal.

As I planted my hardwood forest, I delved into such works as The Forest in Folklore and Mythology, by Alexander Porteous. Trees were worshiped by many societies through history (dendrolatry). A number of genes that we carry are identical to those in trees.

The modern religions, from Mithraism to Christianity set man above Nature. Although the Koran extols the planting of trees in several portions but by and large, the religions teach civilization over forests. It is recorded that these passages were enacted to permit the cutting of virgin forests to supply Rome with charcoal. Their industries ran on charcoal for smelting metals. Thus it was actually "corporate greed" that denuded Europe. The first records of climate change caused by the cutting of forests is found in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1, pp:203-204. After this it became public policy to cut the forests and drain the swamps. As Constantine was the first Pope, the first King of England and Caesar, this policy was incorporated in the faith.

When the Pilgrims landed, 95% of America was forested. Each colonist, it is recorded, was required to clear and plant into exportable foodstuffs, three acres every five years to maintain their property. They girdled millions of hardwoods, often burning them into ashes for fertilizer and as mortar.

Today we see the folly of these policies, for only one in five waterways are now clean enough to support edible fish. Our storms affect two-thirds of the nation, good people die from fire, flood and wind. It was not like this 50-odd years ago when I started planting my forest. No one may allege that anything is "normal," only extreme.

But man has the capacity to learn, to correct errors. If we choose, we can replant the forests. Each acre of forest sequesters eight tons of carbon per year, plus the trees nurture other forms of life. I found that there's about as many kinds below ground (while hoeing the trees) as there is above ground. Plus we receive the cottage industries such as mushrooming, herbs, bees, basket weaving, and they cool the planet. Additionally, the hardwoods are extremely valuable. Use a timber marketing firm, not a local saw mill-the return far exceeds any stock or money market account and is ideal for retirement. Tree foods also tend to be easy to digest. Many civilizations in history were founded on balanophagy (acorn eating). Fire can be avoided if you plant fire-resistant trees: cork, oak, redwood, etc. Nuts become more valuable each season; and the demand for hardwoods can never be met. Two thirds of the world has no trees.

I feel that it is time we examined replanting the trees. Who knows, we might even save humans from extinction. --Ken Bynum, Florida

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Title Annotation:Country conversation & feedback
Author:Bynum, Ken
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Sep 1, 2013
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