The official name for it is dendrolatry- the worship of trees. The Romans practiced it, although the Greeks preferred their deities to stay in the sky. Throughout history, many indigenous cultures all over the world have considered trees to be the most sacred of objects.
Even if you don’t go so far as to convert to dendrolatry, there are reasons to genuflect now and then. We know that in cities trees reduce air pollution, they mitigate the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere, and they save energy by shading our homes.
But there are other compelling reasons to pack more trees into cities, including a number of specific studies that really prove a link between human health and the proximity of trees in our environment. A recent one I was looking at showed that after adjusting for income, race, age, and every other factor, pregnant women have better birth outcomes if they live within fifty meters of a tree. (I paraphrase grossly here, so take a look at the actual study.)
I’m not planning on getting pregnant (perish the thought), and I don’t exactly worship them in a religious sense, but I do believe that trees are one of the most crucial elements in making urban living not just bearable, but actually pleasant. Their significance is sometimes underappreciated, so for the rest of the month I’m going to be giving it up for the trees, specifically those that we often encounter in Philadelphia region. Stay tuned- I’ll look forward to introducing them and their stories to you.