Monday, October 3, 2016

Trees Are People Too

                German forest manager Peter Wohlleben has written a book- published in 2015- titled “The Hidden Life of Trees.” In this book, as well as in a piece he just wrote for Britain’s, he argues that trees are able to store and transmit information. He believes they can communicate with each other. In fact, he claims that trees can learn.
                What’s more, in his post he wrote, “And scientists are beginning to ask: is it possible that trees possess intelligence, and memories, and emotions? So, to cut to the quick, do trees have brains?”
                A more pressing question might be: “Do scientists have brains?”
                Herr Wohlleben continues: “It sounds incredible, but when you discover how trees talk to each other, feel pain, nurture each other, even care for their close relatives and organize themselves into communities, it’s hard to be skeptical.”
                Wohlleben, whose name means  “good life”  in English, claims that “most individual trees of the same species growing in the same copse or stand will be connected through their root systems,” and that “it appears that helping neighbors in times of need is the rule.”  He claims he found a stump of a tree that was felled at least 400 years ago, and yet the stump wasn’t completely dead. Since trees can’t absorb nourishment from sunlight without leaves, he naturally assumes that others of its species “had been pumping sugar into it for centuries to keep it alive, through their tangled roots.” Awwww. “Of course, this cannot be done for every stump,” Wohlleben admits. “It appears to be the closeness of connection, or even affection, that determines how helpful the other trees will be.” (I sense a troubling lack of inclusiveness here).
                The good ranger also claims “trees can distinguish the roots of their own species from other plants, and even pick out their own relations from other trees. Some are so tightly connected at the roots that they even die together, like a devoted married couple.”
                And, since trees store water from rainstorms in their roots and in the surrounding soil for use in future dry spells, he avers that “Trees think ahead.”
                Because trees carry vast amounts of calories in the form of sugar, cellulose and other carbohydrates, they are attractive to insects and birds. Wohlleben opines that, to these animals, “a tree isn’t so much a grocery store as a guarded warehouse.” Why? “Because the food is surrounded by a thick protective wall of bark.” You see, “Trees think about security.”
                He states that there are vast fungal networks in the forest soil that stretch between sets of tree roots-  networks he says are known as “the wood wide web.” (Who says German forest managers don’t have a sense of humor)! These fungi effectively operate “like fiber-optic internet cables,” and “News bulletins are transmitted by chemical compounds and also by electricity, travelling at an inch every three seconds.”  Therefore: trees “talk.”
                Wohlleben makes numerous other claims about trees, among them that they can “call for help,” prepare for an attack and warn other trees of an impending assault, and that they “don’t want to overfeed the deer, because big, hungry herds will strip the forest bare.”
                Oh, and that they can deliberately make noise.
                Wohlleben claims he was “dubious” about this last claim. (We know he is ever the skeptic; does his rationality know no bounds)?  He was finally persuaded when a researcher from the University of Western Australia, who has been monitoring  tree roots with ‘highly sensitive apparatus,’ claimed she “believes they crackle at a frequency of 220 hertz, which the human ear hears as a low A note.” Moreover, when this note was played back to seedlings, “Their roots tilted towards the sound. It appears they could hear it, and were responding.” And bonding. Awwww.
                Wohlleben is convinced that the main reason humans (except for Wohlleben) cannot perceive how “clever and complex” trees are is “Because we exist in such short time scales by comparison. There’s a tree in Sweden for instance, a spruce, that is more than 9,500 years old. A tree’s childhood lasts ten times as long as ours. Activities that take us moments- waking up or stretching our limbs, can last months for a tree.”
                The  arboreal activist closed his online philippic thusly: “It’s hardly surprising that most of us see trees as practically inanimate, nothing more than objects. But the truth is very different. They are just as intensely alive as we are…and for much, much longer.”
                Just as intensely alive as we are? Peter, you’re a sap.
                It’s just a matter of time before Toyota Priuses everywhere start sporting bumper stickers stating: “My Elm Tree is Smarter Than Your Honor Student!”
                What’s truly tragic is that there are many in the green movement- and in other leftist cults- that believe this treacle and embrace this tree twaddle…while seeing nothing whatsoever wrong with abortion.


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