A Word About Trees & Climate Change

Posted on June 1, 2010


Just a simple thing to say today, said here and presently because it seems to get lost in all the other messages.

About trees…

When George Pope Morris wrote “Woodman, spare that tree!” he was being no more than sentimental.

WOODMAN, spare that tree!

Touch not a single bough!

In youth it sheltered me,

And I’ll protect it now.

Though I feel it too, and I have communed sometimes in forest cathedrals, my message is not now about feelings.  It is about cellulose.

Cellulose is the secret of trees, the reason they rise so high above other plants.  Cellulose is plant rebar, which allows the plants to build high.  This is good.  Cellulose allows nature to build more plants per acre, in volume if not in numbers.  We want this because plants are constructed of carbon, and the more carbon we have in plants and the less carbon we have in the air—at least at this juncture of humanity’s story—then the better off we are.

That is why when scientists are describing climate change, they are always adding in deforestation as one of its causes.

Of course it’s not 100% as simple as that, since natural forests exist within nature, and natural ecosystems are better at maximizing the use of the landscape than humans are, even when humans are planting substitute forests.  This has been resoundingly proven in a recent study.

Still the principle is a simple one.  It applies in the woods.  It applies in your backyard.  Carbon that is green and growing is better than carbon in the atmosphere.

And trees are best.

So woodsman, householder, landlady, whoever you are, and whether it is hardhat or straw hat or no hat you happen to wear:  Spare that tree.


Read about natural versus plantation forests here:


Posted in: climate change