Friday, 29 June 2012

Trees - a Short History of the Population of Earth

Satellite maps of the distribution of CO2 across the Earth’s surface show that the highest concentrations are over the tropical forests, and not over large urban and industrial areas, as might be expected. Should we be worried? No, because it’s trees that have reduced the CO2 in the atmosphere to its present low level. Nothing else has the capacity to do this; not grass, not algae, not plankton, nothing else. Certainly not animals; fauna contain little carbon compared with flora, and most flora very little compared with trees.

Grassland plants contain a few grams per square metre of carbon; dense forests can contain up to a tonne or more per square metre. Trees matter; little else does, in the grand scheme of things. A visitor from a distant galaxy would conclude (from Earth orbit) that the population here was tall and brown with little green bits attached, rather boring, and not worth the trouble of attempting to engage in conversation.

Thank God for trees; the little green men will leave us alone.

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