Climatologists Now Claim That Limiting Tree Planting Will Reduce Pollution
As brilliant as many scientists are, they're also responsible for some of the most insane recommendations which often contradict even nature's wisdom. According to researchers and climatologists, the planting of trees should be limited to offset one of society’s predominant environmental and health concerns: air pollution.
It has long been known that trees produce and emit isoprene, an abundant molecule in the air known to protect leaves from oxygen damage and temperature fluctuations. However, in 2004, researchers, contrary to popular assumptions, revealed that isoprene was likely involved in the production of particulate matter, tiny particles that can get lodged in lungs, lead to lung cancer and asthma, and damage other tissues, not to mention the environment.
This caused botanists and environmentalists to sound the horn. They immediately brought forward decades old research showing that trees only react to their environment and any indirect correlation to harmful particulate matter produced by trees was the result of a causal relationship initiated by man-made pollution.
Jason Surratt, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the Gillings School of Global Public Health revealed one mechanism by which isoprene contributes to the production of these tiny, potentially health-damaging particles.
The study found that isoprene, once it is chemically altered via exposure to the sun, reacts with man-made nitrogen oxides to create particulate matter. Nitrogen oxides are pollutants created by cars, trucks, aircrafts, coal plants and other large scale sources.
“The work presents a dramatic new wrinkle in the arguments for reducing man-made pollutants worldwide,” said Surratt, whose work was published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Isoprene evolved to protect trees and plants, but because of the presence of nitrogen oxides, it is involved in producing this negative effect on health and the environment.”
Demyan Krasinski suggests that limiting trees in urban areas could significantly reduce pollution levels where nitrogen oxides are in the highest concentrations. "From a theoretical perspective, limiting trees within urban areas could serve to reduce smog levels, however we would need to further investigate a practical application," he stated.
“We observe nature’s quirks, but we must always consider that our actions do have repercussions,” said Surratt. “It’s the interaction between these natural and man-made emissions that produces this air pollution, smog and fine particulate matter."
Krasinski's suggestion could come to fruition as environmental agencies decide to evaluate and make regulatory decisions that impact public health and climate change. Should researchers influence governments at the municipal level, future initiatives could result in limiting tree planting within cities.
Experts say the trees alone are not the problem. The real villain is the motor car. Trees soak up carbon dioxide, and respire oxygen, doing far more good than harm. And finally, as one forester observed: why worry about a few harmful natural chemicals? In a truly antiseptic world we would all be dead.
It would seem counterproductive to initiate a symptomatic strategy of limiting tree planting as opposed to reducing man-made pollution, but it aligns well with the mentality of government officials.
Who knows, perhaps with all the wisdom scientists possess, perhaps they will soon convince officials to implement a policy to chop down all the trees at a neighborhood near you...all in the name of public safety of course.
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Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.