Trees vs Capitalism: ‘Nature Does Not Negotiate’, by Susu Jeffrey

In the way of American capitalism to combat climate suicide the concept of planting six billion trees to capture carbon has been supplanted by solar panels and electric vehicles.

Mature willow by Lake of the Isles (actually not a lake but a wetland) in a Minneapolis park during a snowstorm. Old trees sequester more carbon than young trees.  Photo: Susu Jeffrey

By Susu Jeffrey  Original to Rise Up Times  October 30, 2021

For Lisa Brodyaga, defender of refugees at Refugio del Rio Grande in Brownsville, Texas, who asks you to plant a tree in her memory.*

I was born into the nuclear age and grew up a proud little American in “the most powerful nation in the world” that could kill every person on earth 35 times. Now that nation is leading the world into climate catastrophe, and we could kill every plant and animal, including humans, in the world.

The natural antidote to global heating is trees. Trees provide shade, suck up rainfall, mitigate wind, hold soil in place, sequester carbon and support each other by sharing nutrients underground, even between tree species, analogous to “races” of people.

We now have a meteorological coinage for excessive rainfall—rain bomb. In a time-lapse film I watched a cloud shoot a microburst of raindrops, hit the ground, and spread out in balloons of debris-cartwheels exactly like A-bomb blasts.

Interesting how nature repeats the limbs and roots of trees in the veins and arteries of animal bodies. That same repetition is happening at COP (Conference of Parties) 26 where no progress on cutting greenhouse gases worldwide is reported for the 26th conference year. Actually, the statistics are getting worse. Now we have to cut fossil fuel use by 55 percent by the year 2050.

Making peace with earth, or the war against the earth, against ourselves, is an ongoing addiction while neckties and corporations make fictional verbal commitments. Nothing changes except more of the same. 

Editor’s note: Trees and carbon dioxide

A mature tree absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year. In one year, an acre of forest can absorb twice the CO2 produced by the average car’s annual mileage.

The Plan to Plant Six Billon Trees

Last fall a friend and member of the International Oak Society came to my townhouse, removed a small dead tree and replaced it with a very small, 15-inch-tall, proto-oak tree. A twig. A toothpick. It was like planting a prayer for the future.

I live in a middle-class development with mostly retired people who volunteer to enforce Association committee decisions: Landscape, Architectural Standards, Maintenance and Social.

It has been reported, appeared in my email from Management, that you planted a new tree in the spot where our tree care professionals had taken out a dead tree.

Board approval was not obtained and this is a violation of the policies in our Architectural Standards Manual, pages 9-10 which states:

Planting trees or shrubs requires prior approval from the Board. New planting areas may not be developed without prior approval of the Board.

Our tree care professionals stated that the reason the tree died was due to it being planted inappropriately.

The tree will need to be removed. Please advise when you will take care of this removal.

To the best of my knowledge, the “tree care professionals” have not been at my place recently to remove or inspect a dead tree. I can only surmise where Management is getting anonymous, inaccurate (“it has been reported”) information from my neighbors, retirees who may have too much time on their hands and who apparently track my yard waste. I guess I should not pick up dead sticks including a dead tree.

I have lot of dead sticks from the failing ash trees that are being treated for emerald ash borer with an expensive insecticide every second or third year. This is good to know because there are a lot of rabbits around who chew on wood in the winter and attract coyotes. Heck, maybe they would have consumed the dead tree over the winter. In addition to the hoppity rabbits I have also observed deer scat in the yard, innumerable squirrels, chipmunks, a variety of birds and my neighbors’ dogs who polka-dot the yard with piss circles.

One hundred and forty different insects feed off ash trees, 40 exclusively on ash trees, the other 100 are generalists. All of them get poisoned and provide food for birds.

Where were the anonymous yard sleuths when I removed two invasive-exotic amur maples earlier in mid-summer that were sneaking in through the bush-clump next to the driveway? And where are those yard sleuths on the very pesky invasive-exotic buckthorn problem? I cannot count the number of buckthorn babies I’ve pulled out over the years.

The dead tree under discussion was planted by the Association about 10 years ago and probably rotted because of moisture-saturated mulch piled around the base of the tree. Tree mulch serves to keep weeds down but does not provide nutrition to a tree.

Unfortunately our Association hired lawn care professionals for years who had a kid with a weed whacker who would ring each tree and damage the bark at the base while whipping any grass blade peeking up. The vascular system of trees is just inside the bark, in the inner bark, and serves as the tree’s food pipeline. It is as susceptible to infection as a cut or scratch on a person’s skin. Mice can nibble bark at a tree base over winter while hiding in the mulch pile if it is not separated by air between the tree base and soil.

All the other trees from that Tree Trust 10-tree planting a decade ago are doing well (especially the swamp white oaks) except for a gingko which loves sun and was transplanted after a home-owner’s complaint about blocking the view.

Now here is the problem: all neighbors are not equal. One neighbor complains and gets a tree moved to a place it will not thrive. I move a dead tree and get a reprimand. 

Responding to the gingko complaint some Association staffer dug out the tree and replanted it where it languishes under way too much shade. That poor gingko is yearning sun-ward but is essentially stunted by shade and devastating decision making devoid of thinking like a tree. Scary when you think of what happens to children.   

These decisions are being executed by ego rather than eco—logic. Here we are in the midst of a climate catastrophe with worldwide efforts to plant six billion trees to mitigate carbon toxicity poisoning earth’s atmosphere, and we are removing and moving trees like doll house furniture.

 An Offending Apricot Tree

One of my neighbors paid for a flower garden next to the driveway planted by staff last summer. In addition to colorful flowers the neighbor bought two little flowering/fruiting apricot trees placing one in front and one in back so they could commit tree sex. Only the apricot by the flowers was okayed by the Landscape Committee.

The apricot planted in the front yard where “Board approval was not obtained” was forthwith dug up and replanted with a choking amount of mulch piled around the base of the little tree. This skinny newbie tree was just the right size for a stag with itchy antlers to scratch off the outer bark and push the tree out of kilter because this is rutting season, and it is only natural to scratch an itch.

There was no consideration about whether the apricot tree placement was good or not, only that some volunteer Landscape Committee person was not asked about that one tree while both trees were planted by staff—companion trees for fruit production for the lives of our yard critters. This is the same kind of Trumpian insanity that causes people to give up caring. Even soldiers can disobey an illegal order.

I recall a Management decision about a complaint made by a now-deceased neighbor. He told Management a linden tree was blocking his path into his garage. I argued that this was inaccurate and asked Management to investigate or to drive by and see. It was not investigated; I was not believed.   

The complaining neighbor, was a man and Association past-president. Management apparently authorized a professional tree trimmer, standing in his truck, using a gas-powered saw, to come and trim my shade linden tree. Luckily I happen to see the workman and yelled “What are you doing?”

He yelled back “Isn’t this 56?” “NO!” I yelled even though the unit numbers are clearly displayed on each garage door and I live at 54. He stopped immediately and made a fast exit, probably thinking he’d get in trouble for his stupidity in not checking the address.

As to moving the offending 15-inch-tall Quercus baby English oak tree, Management ordered that I “Please advise when you will take care of this removal.” I will take care of baby Quercus on or before May 15 of next year, seven months hence, I replied since the toothpick tree has been watered into place and would be harmed if dug out at this time of oncoming winter.

Because our Association Landscape Committee leadership is ego-driven rather than grounded, I would consider it eco-apostasy to donate this tender baby tree to Association decision-makers. Trees are living sexual things, not just things.

In the way of American capitalism to combat climate suicide the concept of planting sx billion trees to capture carbon has been supplanted by solar panels and electric vehicles. Good ideas sure, but not as efficient as allowing trees to grow.

Since before chimpanzees evolved into humans, trees reproduced themselves by natural seed dispersal—cottonwood summer snow, squirrel acorn warehousing. But those darn cottonwood seeds plug up my air-conditioning and the squirrels dig holes in the lawn where seedlings get mowed all summer.

Kumi Naidoo, former executive director of Greenpeace International, observed “Nature does not negotiate.” If the predominate capital-corporate culture cannot adapt to global heating, natural extinction will.

* Lisa Brodyaga, legal giant, dies at 81 | Courthouse News Service


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One comment

  1. Here in the corporate-powered West, however, if the universal availability of green-energy alternatives (like solar power) would come at the expense of the traditional energy production companies, one can expect obstacles, including the political and regulatory sort. If something notably conflicts with corporate big-profit interests, even very progressive motions are greatly resisted, often enough successfully. And, of course, there will be those who will rebut the concept altogether, perhaps solely on the illogic that if it was possible, it would have been patented already and made a few people very wealthy.

    Liked by 1 person

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