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The Greatness of Trees

First published May-2010
last update 2-June-2011

Trees have deep roots, up to 120 meters, and so can access far more water and nutrients than annual (perennial) crops who have roots usually no more than 50 cm. With far deeper roots trees can grow in a far greater variety of places and are far more resistant to drought and other stresses.

Trees have a lot of leaves and so can more efficiently capture light than annual crop. For instance, when an annual crop grows every year there’s a long period where the plant does not occupy all the space, so plenty of light simply falls on the ground. A tree on the other hand doesn’t have to regrow every year so can immediately capture plenty of light. A tree also has far more depth which allows it to better capture diffuse and reflected light. Capture more light means more energy for the tree and so more biomass.

Fruit bearing trees will bear fruit from year to year without needing anyone to till the soil, weed, or do any work at all other than pick the fruit, though some pruning and other other tasks may be beneficial.

Trees will protect the soil from erosion from wind and rain. This is in addition to not requiring to completely expose the soil through tilling in the first place.

Due to these qualities, trees provide a far sturdier ecological base than annual crops, but also require less effort to maintain and can produce more food than annual crops.

Especially in the energy perspective of the last chapter, trees require far less energy to interact with and provide far more energy in terms of human food.

But trees also provide building material and a host of other goodness.

Why Annual Crops Then?

The historical reasons humanity developed annual crops into forests to begin with are many, explored in depth in Appendix 1.

Today the major reason is that the whole process of growing annual crops can be completely managed by petro-machines and petro-chemicals, up to now. [1]

Imminent Annual Crop Catastrophe

Now, erosion of top soil, depletion of aquifers, build-up of petro-chemicals in the environment, increase resistance of pests to petro-chemical poisons, are all factors, which individually can lead to harvest failure, and together are creating a world wide famine.

Tomorrow, petroleum and natural gas will be in a terminal decline of production, and so expensive if available at all, making the agri-petro experiment no longer possible to pursue even if the lobbying will existed.

Solution: Plant Trees

The only sustainable food system possible on a global scale is one based on fruit, nut and otherwise edible trees.

We must reforest the areas we have deforested, with a mix of trees that grow something edible as well as other trees for ecological diversity.

From the sterile green deserts of mono-culture to the man made sand deserts, we must plant trees everywhere.

And we must plant them 10-20 years before we absolutely need them, while we still have some soil and time to wait for the trees to mature and bear fruit.

Footnotes

[1For instance, there is no combine that will harvest peaches, they must be picked by hand.

Written by Eerik Wissenz.
Contact:
decent@nym.hush.com

Table of Contents

*Chapters in grey are in progress.


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