A clever way for thieves to steal from a store is to switch price tags on items, putting low prices on items of higher value. The thieves then purchase the items. This technique works best in stores where cashiers are oblivious to the true value of the merchandise and too busy to take notice of obvious discrepancies.
Like the pre-occupied cashiers, we don’t know the value of our natural resources and are too busy to notice that they are grossly undervalued. We might be tired and overworked, or so distracted that we don’t clue in. Developers keen to turn a quick profit are the ones who stand to gain.
This happens in third-world countries where rainforests brimming with biodiversity are razed to make way for single crops that strip the soil of its nutrients and contribute to erosion. It also happens in wealthier nations where scrub lands with shorter trees are filled with concrete by residential and business park developers focused on turning a quick profit.
In resource-rich Canada, we take for granted the cleanliness of our seemingly endless supply of clean air and water, not fully realizing the role trees play in their presence. In one year, a large tree can supply enough clean air for a family of four to breathe and a single medium-sized tree can filter over 2000 gallons of water. We cut down old growth forests and pat ourselves on the back when we fill the bare spaces with tiny seedlings that will take several lifetimes to mature. We fail to appreciate how much trees buffer noise, create windbreaks, intercept rainfall, hold and create soil, absorb carbon dioxide and provide a habitat for wildlife. Even their beauty is uplifting. But because we have so many trees here in Canada, we take them for granted.
The law of supply and demand dictates that our trees will increase in value as they become less abundant. But why do we have to wait until then to appreciate them? The United Nations has declared 2011 to be the International Year of Forests in an effort to heighten awareness of their value to mankind.
If a 24K bar of gold weighing 28 lbs is worth approximately half a million dollars, what is the value of a single tree?
For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.
~ Martin Luther
Gold bar photo credit: Sybil Nunn