Trees versus humans

Once upon a time, we crawled out of the sea. Crawled around on land for a while, but there was nothing to do there, so we migrated back to the sea. Millions of years later we went back to look on land, and lo and behold, there seemed to be something growing there. So we crawled back on land. It had started with growing trees, and forests slowly emerging, about 420 years ago, in the Devonian[1]. That was fun, we lived and climbed in trees, grew our arms and legs, and could live off what the trees yielded. And safe from all sorts of scum, running round below the trees. Until at some point, it got a little crowded in those trees, and a couple of us climed down and started walking around. They picked some berries and picked some nuts , and occasionally climbed up for an apple. What was annoying was that there were all kinds of other species walking around, who could eat us. But soon we realized that if we walked on two legs, we could handle those guys. Moreover, we invented spears and turned the tables: we ate those others. We also learned to cook, using trees, which meant we needed less energy to digest food, our brains could grow, and we could use more and more (labor) energy to bend the environment to our will: we started to settle , and…: cut down trees. Trees that we depended on, were cut down, and more and more. Not realizing that without trees we were not now what we are, intelligent beings, (well we think so). When the trees ran out here and there, just in time we discovered coal , Ho shit, for that we do need trees again, to shore up the mining galleries…. But soon there was also oil and gas and many coal mines here closed again. .

Now we are finding out that all that is not so convenient, those fossil fuels. What now, or what have we learned? Think fossil abandoned…. But then? Then we are again completely dependent on trees (cq forests and other vegetation). That is free material and (stored) energy and food.

Just realize, if there would be no people, there would be trees. After all, the reason forests do not exist is solely because humans cut them down first for fuel and then for agriculture.

But you can also put it another way: once there are humans, trees disappear. Not so fast at the moment, because of the fossil and all that, but without fossil the struggle will continue again: actually life is, properly speaking, a struggle between trees and people: how fast can one grow, and how fast can the other adapt? Fewer people = more trees, more people = fewer trees. The two have a crucial balance/relationship here on earth, and are condemned to each other. We don’t see that so directly for a while, through the trees, shall I say, but it’s there. And it was crucial before fossil, and it will be crucial after fossil.

When one withdraws, the other takes over. ? How? I will explain.

Anyone who analyzes history, and takes some distance, sees that trees were responsible for rise and fall of cultures: Persians and Greeks had put all the wood in battleships, and when the wood runs out, it becomes difficult to defend… Then the Trojan horse could not have been built… The barren islands in Greece are another example of this, never re-planted again and eroded. End of flowering period. Then the whole thing shifts to Italy, to Rome, which at some point can no longer supply its resources either, because of too much and too far. It then moves toward Spain and especially France, and there are wonderful descriptions of how they cut down forests fast. Because they also wanted a lot of iron, and the many forges burned up the forests so fast that in 1346 Philip the VI issued a ban on new rights and extensions of iron forges. And later followed the obligation to replant. [2]

The same we see a colonial era, wood is essential for trade for merchant ships and battleships. And then when North America is conquered, the great tree cutting begins there too. The steamships they used costs immense stock of burning wood, so much so that there were no more timber exports to England. And they decided to build ships from steel, with already known coal energy: the industrial revolution began.

Vice versa also: where the people disappear, as in those days by all kinds of diseases brought by Columbus and consorts, in South and Central America enormous forests grew again, on the abandoned agricultural lands, even to be seen in a decrease of CO2 in the CO2 graphs. [3]

By the way, one could thus also argue that our main occupation, or nature itself, is to replace trees with humans…Most striking difference, of course: Trees are immobile (flora), humans mobile (Fauna). That is, trees are mobile, per generation trees and forests can move, but not as an independent unit. Fauna, humans, can do both, independently, and per generation. Not for nothing do people and even so cultures shift .

Trees contribute oxygen, people carbon dioxide. For that reason alone, the two are condemned to each other. The cycle in a nutshell: from tree to man to tree to man etc That CO2 balance is crucial, we know all too well by now.

Trees are part of the life of all other species, flora as well as fauna. They live off the sun and nutrients in the soil, and let others live through leaves and fruit.

People live off trees, and other flora and fauna, however give little ( anymore ) back. They ‘use up’ those resources even faster , the flora and fauna that they have to live on, as that they can recover or grow. While trees have an automatic / built-in balance with environment, at least, as long as people do not interfere, people do not.

While we now become dependent on trees again, and so must start acting like trees. Create balance, close cycles. Otherwise it will never work out.

Trees and people, condemned to each other.




PS What is the situation now, with trees?

There can be 400 trees in a per hectare. And there are in totally worldwide around 3 000 billion trees, that does include young plantings, or young shoot growth.[4] And there were once twice as many. Or 422 trees and shoots per person ( 2015 ) , That’s about 1 hectare of forest pp , with some 400 trees.

So we are still in the minority, 8 billion earthlings as of recently, thanks to natural fossil those forests have shrunk a bit less. So 1 on 1 replacement of trees by people is not happening yet, we , as humans , are only around 10 billion. But where a tree takes up roughly 25 m2, it is many times more by humans: the current diet alone takes up almost 2500-3000 m2. That’s a factor of 100 more, and already more than we have pp available in the Netherlands….That’s already almost 1/3 of that forest area, and only for food…. And if, as research shows, actually half the earth should be forested for a balance in CO2,[5] then we are not even allowed to use much of that. In other words, basically the whole earth should be forested, and we should live on that for a balance of…



books etc.


devoon, without trees, no life , 420 million years ago

{2] In the servitude of power, Jean Claude Debeir et all

[3] The Human planet – how we created the Anthropocene Auteur: Simon Lewis Mark A. Maslin


[5] Half Earth Our Planet’s Fight for Life Auteur: Edward O. Wilson

en ook nog:

[6] Affluence without abundance, What We Can Learn from the World’s Most Successful Civilisation

James Suzman

[7] A forest journey , storey of wood and civilisation , John Perlin

[8]Wat bomen ons vertellen, Valerie Trouet