Lab Journal

Those tall things with leaves on them

July 02, 2010 by Nelida

Yes. We are talking about trees.

I believe it is safe to assume that most trees in the neighborhood do not get a lot of attention from residents. They are there mostly for show, as they are very aesthetically pleasing. But they provide much more than that. Trees within our urban forest improve our air, protect our water, save energy, and improve economic sustainability. But how do they do this, you might ask? Well, allow me to explain.

You see, during photosynthesis, trees remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and emit oxygen into the atmosphere. CO2 is a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect. Trees therefore help us by acting like a carbon sink, removing the carbon and storing it.

Trees also remove particulates from the air. Sub-micron particulates persist in urban areas because they come from things such as the wear of radial tires, diesel exhaust, and coal-fired plant exhaust. These particulates are harmful once we inhale them. This can lead to respiratory problems for urban dwellers. The solution? Trees. Trees act as filters to absorb pollutants including particulates. Trees in dirty urban areas have much darker bark than in areas with clean air. This is because the bark is trapping the particulates!

The benefits of trees far outweigh the disadvantages (yes, there are some, but very few). It is important that we all educate ourselves on how useful trees are to us. After all, we probably wouldn’t exist without plant life. So go forth and hug a tree today to thank it for all it does for us!

Read more about the benefits of trees in urban areas.

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