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This review is from: The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet (Hardcover)
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There are very few people who would argue against the importance of trees or the necessity of preserving forests. But that is the limit to how deeply many of us have thought the subject through. It takes a savant, a true tree advocate to educate us further. The greatest old-growth forests of the world are mostly gone, taking with them ancient genetics. But there are remnants, stumps, and survivors that David Milarch is cloning and replanting. Some of the techniques are new and have enabled him to clone trees that no one else could. But why should we care? Microscopic organisms in the oceans produce about eighty percent of the oxygen we breathe, so exactly how important are forests? It turns out that the contributions of the trees is an emerging science and far more diverse than we imagined. Trees are chemical factories pumping byproducts into the atmosphere and the earth. Clouds and rain were thought to accrete primarily around dust particles, but it turns out that bacteria harbored by trees are a huge contributor, wafting into the atmosphere from leaves and stomata, falling in the rain, landing on leaves, breeding, and repeating the cycle. Trees filter the atmosphere, mediate rainfall, harbor carbon, and exude hormones that can lighten your mood and lower blood pressure.
'The Man Who Planted Trees' is an eye-opener that deals mainly in concrete and emerging science. It wanders into some tree-sprite and crystal-gazing territory, but only in the sense of giving full coverage to the field of tree-lore. And it doesn't really matter what your reason is, as according to a Chinese proverb, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, and the second-best time is today.