As the president of Tree Canada, an organization that's helped plant more than 80 million trees over the past 20 years, you might expect an argument against cutting down a "live tree," but make no mistake -- you are helping both the environment and the community you live in when you choose a real tree.
Until 1969, biologists thought mushrooms and other fungi were plants. They're actually more closely related to animals, but with enough differences that they inhabit their own distinct classification. This and more recent findings about these mysterious organisms illustrate how much we have yet to learn about the complexities of the natural world.
If we disconnect from the natural world, we become disconnected from who we are -- to the detriment of our health and the health of the ecosystems on which our well-being and survival depend. Understanding that we're part of nature and acting on that understanding makes us healthier and happier, and encourages us to care for the natural systems around us.
The first thing I wanted to do on a recent trip to West Hollywood was to seek out the Wisdom Tree. It sounds like something you'd be more likely to stumble upon in San Francisco rather than L.A., but I was fascinated by the story that has transformed this lone tree into a budding tourist attraction.
When I discovered the German word Waldensemkite -- the feeling of peace that one gets when being alone in the woods -- it made me wonder how real are these experiences? Did this invisible forest mist have an impact on me? As a scientist, I relish the experiment. So for one week, I would spend at least five minutes maximizing the human/tree interface, i.e. tree hugging.
I think back to the ice storm and realize it has killed something I so loved, a sound that soothed me; a sight that reminded me of the freedom nature lends to our lives. How was I to know that with the magnificence of the ice storm, destruction ran ramped in ways I had considered, in ways that would change things forever outside my window, for me and for others?
Show someone a photo of a lush forest with a grizzly bear and ask what's in the picture. Most will answer, "a bear." Add a spotted owl to the scene, and the response might become, "a grizzly bear under an owl." What you are unlikely to hear is a description of the flora accompanying the charismatic fauna.