Sunday, 28 December 2008

61 trees

This link is to a story that claims to show that we only have 61 trees each per person.
They did this by using NASA satellite figures to estimate the number of trees in the world (400 billion'ish) and dividing by the number of people (6.5 billion'ish).

If we take it as 61 trees per person per lifetime (say an average of 80 years) then that's less than one tree per year each. Trees are not necessarily finite though because with natural germination and forestry culture they can be replaceable but so are people, so to speak. The problem is the global human population is still increasing fast. I think we're gaining on the trees and not in a good way...

Apart from the obvious uses such as timber, wood stove fuel, paper and cardboard there are a myriad of other uses for wood products such as (excuse the American bias): baseball bats, barrels, books, blocks, benches, crutches, coffee filters, guitars, grocery bags, pencils, pine oil, beds, billboards, buttons, candy wrappers, buttons, chewing gum, cork, crayons, egg cartons, fruit pie filling, kites, linoleum, luggage, paper, pingpong balls, chopsticks (especially the disposable kind), rubber, tambourines, telephone books, tires, toilet paper, turpentine, xylophones and yo-yos (the wooden kind). Yes, I already know there are errors in this list such as that chopsticks can made from bamboo, which is a grass etc.

Although trees such as conifers can be mature within a human lifetime, hardwoods are nowhere near fully grown. Considering each human only has a piece of land 150 metres square as their share of Earth's land surface (do the math - it's not too hard), the above figures are yet more logical and mathematical proof that we are living in a dangerously unsustainable way.

Those local politicians who based their re-election on claims to be a safe pair of hands in troubled times, while pursuing business-as-usual policies without thought of the consequences, are caught in the spotlight of these hard figures as being dangerously irrational and irresponsible, not to mention ignorant of reality to an almost criminal degree.


1 comment:

Mark Forskitt said...

Forstry is a complicated subject -a well run coppice can keep yielding wood for many hundreds of years. The other vital element of trees, especially indigenous species, is the invaluable in some cases irreplaceable wildlife habitat they provide for birds, squirrels, insects and fungi.

When I think that just 4,000 years ago northern Europe was almost completely wooded - and that some trees can live that long its clear homo sapiens (misonomer if ever these was one!) has had a massive impact.

I don't even dare contemplate how the 61 trees per person figure is being affected by the rate of felling in the Amazon and Indonesia.