What’s more important to Trump? Distance between trees or social distancing among his supporters?

President Trump seems more concerned about the distance between trees than he does about the distance between his supporters at his rallies.

These trees are way too close together.

While he continues to shoehorn people in to hear his irrational and unsupported comments about everything from the Corona virus to Joe Biden, he was in California this week suggesting that trees being too close together are at least partly responsible for the fires raging across the West.

“They also have to do cuts,” he said shortly after arriving at a smoky Sacramento airport on Monday. “I mean, people don’t like to do cuts, but they have to do cuts in between. So if you do have a fire and it gets away, you’ll have a 50-yard cut in between so it won’t be able to catch to the other side. They don’t do that.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTb-ePYVBoo

On Tuesday afternoon, large fires were burning in California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona, according to multiple news reports.

USAToday is reporting that as of Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of homes have been destroyed and that more than 3.2 million acres have burned in California alone. The death toll has been pegged at 36, and full containment is nowhere in sight. https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/2020/09/10/wildfires-california-washington-oregon-drought-heat-climate-change-graphics/5764156002/

Meanwhile, as part of his country burns, Trump is talking about “forest management,” not, as many think he should, climate change.

While forest management is important, other factors come into play when to comes to forest fires, including higher temperatures, drought and high winds.

To be fair, he didn’t specify exactly where the “50-yard cuts” should be made. But in the context of his comments, it appears he meant that the 50 yards should be in the forest itself.

Picture this: A forest with 50 yards between the trees. It’s really hard to imagine.

First, let’s get our terms straight. A forest, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forest is “a thick growth of trees and underbrush covering an extensive tract of land.”  

The key word here is “thick.” OK, so let’s define “thick.” According to Merriam-Webster, thick is defined as “close-packed with units or individuals.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thick In this case, the units are trees.

Let’s also take a look at what 50 yards means. Fifty yards is half the length of a football field. In feet, 50 yards is 150 feet. It’s also:

  • About as tall as The Chicago Water Tower
  • About four-fifths as tall as The Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • About two-thirds as long as the wingspan of a 747
  • About three-fifths as tall as a giant Sequoia (tree)
  • About half as tall as the Statue of Liberty
  • About two-and-a-half times as long as a bowling lane
  • About three times as tall as the Hollywood sign
  • About one-fourth as tall as the Washington Monument
  • About four times as tall as a telephone pole
  • About one-tenth as tall as the Empire State Building
  • And on and on and on.

In other words, it’s a heck of a long way when you’re talking about a forest.

For a whole slew of additional comparisons, check http://www.bluebulbprojects.com/MeasureOfThings/results.php?comp=distance&unit=yrd&amt=50&sort=pr&p=1

If Trump’s advice were to be taken, we wouldn’t have forests; we would have pastures with the occasional tree sprinkled here and there.

Besides, if Trump really cared, he would have done something about the alleged tree problem since most of the state’s fires are in national parks.

Trees have natural benefits that would be lost if many of them were gone.

Here are some of those benefits, according to Canopy.org, https://canopy.org/tree-info/benefits-of-trees/ and this just scratches the surface:

  • Trees produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates and reduce smog, enhancing a community’s respiratory health. The urban canopy directly contributes to meeting a city’s regulatory clean-air requirements.
  • Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity, and reduces stress, while improving the quality of life in our cities and towns.
  • A tree is a natural air conditioner. The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room-size, residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
  • Tree windbreaks can reduce residential heating costs 10-15 percent; while shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential air-conditioning costs 20-50 percent.
  • Again, and on and on and on.

And again, check out the site for a longer list of how trees benefit human life.

One other thing. Reducing the number of earth’s trees will worsen global warming because it’s been proven that trees cool the atmosphere.

Besides all that, they smell nice and are pretty to look at.

So leaving 50 yards between trees is simply not a good idea, Mr. President. As a New-York-City-born kid, I don’t think you really appreciate the value and benefits of trees.

I’m not putting down New Yorkers. I was born in the Bronx, where apartment buildings outnumber trees by quite a bit. But since moving west, I have spent hours and hours with my family hiking our forests and enjoying all that nature has to offer.

So when talking about forest management and its effects on fires, keep in mind that it’s about more than just the distance between trees or keeping forest floors well-swept. Climate change, something Trump denies, is a major player in killer forest fires.

I know you lead a busy life and haven’t had much time to get out and enjoy nature. Pretty soon, though, that will change, and, when it does, you’ll have plenty of time to get out, visit our beautiful forests and, basically, take a hike.

Published by Mike Sturman

I am a retired journalist with nearly 30 years in the field, during which time I was a reporter and held numerous editor positions at local newspapers and a number of magazines. After I retired, I was a sub in my local school district, then did PR for that district. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in journalism, and as for my politics, that's simple: I'm a liberal Democrat. I'm married, and my wife recently retired after 25 years as a teacher. We have one daughter, who has earned her PhD and works at a UC. Through this blog, I hope to pass on some interesting thoughts and ideas, entertain with some lighthearted posts and generally quell my pandemic-induced boredom.

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