How Many Trees on Earth?

According to the most recent study, there are three trillion trees on earth – more than 420 trees for each person on the planet.

This number was reached by using both ground surveys and satellite data by a team from Yale University headed by Dr. Thomas Crowther. A previous estimate put the global tree count at 400 billion – which means we have about eight times more trees than previously thought.

Before we celebrate, Dr. Crowther is quoted as saying, “It’s not like we’ve discovered a load of new trees; it’s not like we’ve discovered a load of new carbon. So, it’s not good news for the world or bad news that we’ve produced this new number.”

It is thought that humans have already removed at least three trillion trees since the last ice age. We continue to deforest the planet at a rate of 15 billion trees a year, while replanting approximately 5 billion.

With 7.5 billion people on earth, we would each only need to plant 2 trees to more than balance out that equation.

little boy helping his father to plant the tree while working together in the garden. sunday. smiling face.

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Greek Proverb

Never Dump Your Fishing Worms in the Forest. Here’s Why

When I was about seven years old we were staying at a campground that sold red wigglers for fishing. Being a rather strange and oversensitive child (who grew into a strange and sensitive adult) I spent the money my parents gave me for chips and a pop on a Styrofoam packet of worms instead. I took the worms to the nearby forest and released them. I had always felt good about saving the worms from the fate of the hook and lure.

That is until now.

I just learned that releasing red wigglers into a forest is a terrible thing to do. For the forest, not the worms.

Red Wigglers can eat an amazing amount of forest litter…leaves, pine cones, bark etc. In fact, they eat so much that the plants that rely on the forest litter to provide them with the shelter, moisture and nutrients they need no longer grow in areas with a high amount of these worms.

You can usually tell there are too many worms simply by noting how little natural forest debris is on the forest floor.

Taking your worms home from your fishing expedition and releasing them in your garden or compost pile is the best option. Unless your garden is actually in the forest, then you might want to consider setting up a worm farm in a closet or basement. For more on that click right here.

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Cute worm cartoon

 

 

Random Acts

 

This would have made a great post for Valentine’s Day, but better late than never…

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Spotted this heart made out of rocks in a lake this summer while on holidays. I love it when people take time to create beautiful things that get left behind for others to admire. Random acts of beauty, paying it forward, things that aren’t exactly vandalism (though may involve a teensy bit of trespassing) and things that make people smile. Anything that creates a bright spot in a passerby’s day.

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A man works on a stone installation near a public trail by a lake.

Of course, a lot of people use their own property as a canvas for this sort of thing. Even a beautiful flower bed can lift the spirits of someone driving past. I once met a woman who had the most incredible yard. It was bright, quirky and crammed with an assortment of antiques filled with flowers. She lived beside a busy freeway and told me that not a week went by where someone didn’t make the effort to pull off the highway just to tell her how much they appreciated her garden. Many said they purposely added twenty minutes to their commute just for the daily dose of joy her garden gave them.

If you are one of those people who takes the time to create joy and smiles, whether through a garden or quirky art installations, thank you. Intentionally or not, you probably touch more lives than you realize.

I don’t have a front yard, but I would love to do something like this with our balcony…

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Though when you’re four floors up things can quickly go awry and with my luck they almost certainly would. It’s fun to surprise people, but not by having pots in pants raining down on their heads.

For now maybe I’ll just stick to recording random acts of joy and sharing them here instead.

Random acts of joy…they’re a good slice.

 

Pie Advice

We naturally want to help people make good choices. Especially if those people are family or close friends, but beware of what I call pie advice.

Heavily invested in our opinions, we tend to serve up well-meaning advice with such fervor that recipients feel as if we are shoving a pie in their face. True, it is a pie and maybe if they could step back and get a look at the thing, they might even be tempted to taste it. But even if the pie is their favorite kind topped off with whip cream or intricate lattice-work baked to a perfect golden brown, no one wants it shoved in their face. That will always result in them backing away from you. It’s just instinct.

Facebook pages have become littered with opposing views shoved in each other’s face. One friend went so far as to post that anyone voting for a particular party should please unfriend her. I so resented her pie in my face that I was tempted to do what she asked, despite the fact we shared the same political views; despite the fact I really, really, like her and enjoy her company. It was the pie advice that got me.

Another Facebook friend/distant relative posted weekly about how immigrants needed to become “Canadian” and shouldn’t be allowed to retain their way of dressing after coming to our country. Every time I saw one of his posts my blood pressure sky rocketed and I could barely breathe. I did not like his pie. I did not like it at all. I whipped up batch after batch of reciprocating pies in my head, filled with hot, bubbling logic to counter his ignorance. With the exception of the First Nation people all of us were immigrants. Did he not dress like a European? How could he be so small-minded?

And then…I remembered to breathe. I wiped the whip cream out of my eyes, pushed back from the table and contemplated the pies set before me. All three – my friend’s, my relative’s and my own – had fear as its main ingredient. Fear is always just a nibble away from hate. Someone wisely said what we don’t understand we fear and what we fear we tend to despise.

My friend had an image of Canada that she held dear and feared anyone who might harm it. So did this relative. So did I. What is war but a bunch of people shoving their fear-fueled ideas into one another’s face? We are all so certain that our views are the right ones. Our views are the ones that will keep us safe. Never mind that statistics suggest North Americans are most likely to die on Christmas Day at the hands of someone they know. No doubt, while shoving pie in each other’s face.

Giving each other space, room to breathe and at most gently setting out our pie as an offering instead of slapping it in another’s face could save a lot of hard feelings. Who knows? It could even lead to World Peace.

When I think about the people who have most influenced me, none of them were pie pushers. Instead they simply appeared, like a pie in a glass bakery case. I was left to notice them, to be intrigued, to ask questions. To point and say, I think I might like a slice of that. Could you please tell me what is in it?

We are all in this beautiful mess together. We are only divided by our thoughts. We have all come from the same place and to that same place we will all return. Together. Each one of us an ingredient in one amazing, cosmic pie.

Bon appetit.

Earth planet with houses and trees

Spring…is that You?

Well, it’s Groundhog day and it was cloudy, so that means our local groundhog didn’t see his shadow, which means spring is practically here!

And look at what I saw in Canadian Tire today…

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And then I was in Wal-Mart and saw this…

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Buckets of sour candies for $4.27! No, wait…that’s not what I meant to show you. Look at the snow blowers on clearance. 

Oh yeah baby, spring has sprung.

Never mind that we live in the north or that spring rarely hatches up here before May or that I am looking out my window right now at snow-covered roofs. The local hog has spoken. And so have the seed displays and clearance blowers.

Shhhh…let me have my delusions.

 

Hey there Universe; Thanks for the Show

When I left the apartment night before last, I hadn’t bothered to grab a coat, only planning on a quick trip across the parking lot to the dumpster and back. I don’t even know what made me look up after tossing the bag inside, but when I did there it was.

A planetary conjunction.

A perfect triangle.

On the left side was a brilliant waxing moon and on the right an equally bright Venus. If I hadn’t heard about the impending triangular conjunction on the radio earlier that afternoon (and then promptly forgot about it) I wouldn’t have known it was even called a conjunction and I certainly wouldn’t have noticed Mars. The red planet didn’t shine as brilliantly as its moon and Venus counterparts, nor did it appear as large, but if you knew it was there you could easily make out its ruddy glow forming the top point in the moon and planet triangle.

What an amazing universe we live in.

What an amazing coincidence that I went out with the garbage during the two hours once a decade that this conjunction is so easily visible from earth.

Since it was -15 C and I didn’t have a coat, after a couple of minutes I turned to go back to the apartment. I felt like I always do when I witness these events, be they super moons, comets, eclipses or what have you. There is always a sense that simply looking at them and then walking away isn’t right. The moment should be honored somehow. Like I should have spread banquet tables across the parking lot complete with punch bowls, snacks and a live band or something. I feel guilty walking away. It’s like I’m shrugging at the universe (that said, I feel guilty about pretty much everything, including the garbage I had just tossed in the bin).

I was still in a fog of awe and guilt when I got back up to the apartment, so I put on my coat and made my husband come back down so we could admire universe’s handiwork together. It was like I was saying, “See Universe? I’m back. I really do care. And look! I brought my husband.” It wasn’t banquet tables and music, but it was something.

I could just imagine the conversation in the sky.

Humph. Did you see that woman toss her garbage, glance our way and then hug herself and run back into the building? Well, that’s it. We’ve had enough with being unappreciated. We’re shutting down the entire show. No more knocking ourselves out circling the sun and doing once in a decade dazzling things just so…wait a minute. Hey, she’s back! And she brought somebody with her. Well, in that case…everyone as you were. Keep on circling. 

But anyway, crazy thoughts aside, I really am glad I got a chance to see it.

And Universe, if you’re listening…thanks for the show.

Signed,

A. Fan.

Communication World, Global Commerce - China, Far East

Finding Our Spark

A month into the new year and I am feeling…sad. Sad with intermittent injections of horror. It seems like we’re heading into a rabid era of judgement. Lines are being drawn so fast and furious, the whole world is getting as wrinkled as an elephant’s eyebrow.

Like ripples in a pond, we tend to see the outer rings first. We see the divisions created by religion, politics and government and we sadly shake our heads. The inner rings we see as “other” or “them”. They are the individuals who are at the root of all that is wrong with the world today. The ones that are keeping us from utopia. The ones stirring up the waters.

Of course, whichever side you are on, “they” are thinking the exact same thing about “us”.

The pebble, the thing that jumped into the water and put the whole thing into motion in the first place, is you. It’s me. It’s us.

I know. I don’t like it either.

But think about it. Every time we jump in fueled by a desire for justice, equality or even compassion, the exact opposite occurs. We just create more ripples, more lines and more division.

I’ve been watching a new Canadian sitcom called Kim’s Convenience. It follows a Korean family who own a convenience store in Toronto. The patriarch of the family is a lovable mix of strong opinions that often conflict with his good intentions, causing things to go awry.

Anyway, this episode I was watching showed a drag queen shopping at the convenience store under the curious eye of Mr. Kim. I am going by memory, so I won’t have this exactly right, but when it is time to ring up the purchases, Mr. Kim pauses in bagging the groceries, looks up at the man in drag and asks with sincerity, “Why you do this?”

At first the drag queen looks startled and then tense; a world of hurt about to break out on his beautifully made up face. Then there is a recognition of the genuine curiosity in Mr. Kim’s question.

“Oh,” he says, softening. “I…this is what makes me feel at home.”

As Mr. Kim considers the answer, you can see a light dawn and he slowly nods. He understands. They smile at each other.

What if we could just be curious about each other instead of judgmental?

And it goes both ways.

I am horrible to people I judge as homophobic. If that is how your thinking goes, your name goes directly onto my Asshole List. I don’t care how many kittens you might have saved or how many hours you devote to worthy causes. Same goes for any sort of racism or misogyny. Onto my Asshole List you go. That’s it. You and I will never be friends. This, despite my fondness for thinking of myself as a peaceful, kind, loving “good” person.

Faced with opposing views, I am unable to remain calm and curious. To simply ask, “Why do you think this?”

I become blind to the spark of good in you.

But if I could rein myself in enough to see that spark, then chances are you could do the same, and in that gap there is hope for real discourse, perhaps even friendship and ultimately, world peace.

At the very least, when there is mutual respect things are less likely to escalate out of control. There is far less chance of acting on our fears and prejudices by causing physical or verbal harm to another human being.

What is that saying…those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. In a time when there are unsettling parallels to events preceding the second world war, we could do worse than break from history. We could press pause and try something different.

There is a spark of good in everyone and maybe it’s time for all of us to pull our sparks out and hold them high. To show our sparks to each other and together light the world on fire with love.