by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
A few years ago a popular bumper sticker, seen mostly on cars driven by environmental activists, proclaimed that “Trees Are the Answer.” Some cynics asked what the question was, but I thought the message was fairly clear, and I agreed with it.
For centuries trees have been known to have a calming effect on people, and to provide a sense of security and peace. Long before the talk about global warming, before the relationship between trees and carbon dioxide was understood, even before anyone cared about the difference between new trees and old growth, people always had an instinct about the importance of forests.
Henry David Thoreau even taught that we can learn from trees, at least metaphorically. His 1854 publication of “Walden, or Life in the Woods” became a pivotal event in the history of conservation, because it was one of the earliest attempts to portray nature, especially trees, as a giver of life. He wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”