The Importance Of Arbor Day Essay Example
Trees are a vital feature of our planet’s environment. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and replace it with oxygen. It is estimated that 20 million trees will generate 260 million tons of oxygen, and just one acre planted with trees can take 2.6 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere every year. In other words, trees can help reduce global warming by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the air (“Reduce Global Warming By Planting Trees” n.d.). That is why America’s Arbor Day – celebrated on the last Friday in April each year – is so important in the fight against climate change.
Arbor Day was introduced – mainly for different reasons – by J. Sterling Morton, a pioneer who came to Nebraska in 1854, and in 1858 was made Secretary of that territory. He felt that Nebraska needed many more trees, for various reasons including functioning as windbreaks but also to make the landscape more attractive. He advocated the establishment of a day each spring on which trees would be planted. The idea took hold and spread throughout the schools in America, and in fact in many US states that day became a public holiday – a day on which many trees are planted every year (Morton 2014).
Born in New York in 1832, Morton spent his early years in Michigan, where he went to university. He worked briefly for the Detroit Free Press, but when he and his wife moved to Nebraska City, he established the Nebraska City News. After a series of political defeats he focused his attention on tree planting, and for some years was president of Nebraska’s State Board of Agriculture. In 1872 he persuaded the state to set aside April 10th that year for tree planting and to call it “Arbor Day.” On that first ever Arbor Day, the people of Nebraska planted over one million trees. Based on its success, it became an annual event from 1874 onwards, and the following year was changed to be on Morton’s birthday, April 22nd. It was never made a federal holiday, so the date on which it is celebrated around the world today varies somewhat, but is mostly the last Friday each April (Anderson 2001 pp. 31-32).
Morton was quoted as stating: “Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future.” Since those early days billions of trees have been planted across the world, stemming from Morton’s original idea. His family carried on in his footsteps, opening the 1500-acre Morton Arboretum near Chicago in 1922, and his home in Nebraska has been donated to the state (Anderson 2001 p. 33).
Morton demonstrates his love for trees in the opening lines of his article “About Trees” which was originally published in 1893 in a work entitled “Arbor Day Leaves” edited by N. H. Egleston. The first sentences of his article read: “A tree is the perfection in strength, beauty, and usefulness of vegetable life. It stands majestic through the sun and storm of centuries” (Morton p.126).
He continues on to describe – in a clearly affectionate and romantic way – the growth of a young oak tree and the functioning of its various parts through the seasons as it matures into what he calls “a majestic oak” (Morton p. 127).
Morton also notes how many civilizations have felled the trees of the world’s forests with adequate replanting, turning the once green acres into deserts, and thereby creating the need for Arbor Day, which is a step in the right direction. Arbor Day and its intent is looking to the future, to the welfare of future generations (Morton p.128).
There is no doubt that Morton was a very important figure in arboriculture – not just for Nebraska or for the United States, but for the world we all share. His vision and foresight and “his” Arbor Day have given the world millions of trees that contribute to the fight against climate change.
Anderson, Byron. (2001). “Biographical Portrait: Julius Sterling Morton.” Forest History Today, Fall 2000, pp. 31-33. Retrieved from: http://www.foresthistory.org/Publications/FHT/FHTFall2000/morton.pdf
Egleston, N. H. (Ed.). (1893). “Arbor Day Leaves.” American Book Company, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago, Boston. Retrieved from: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17645/17645-h/17645-h.htm#Page_3
Morton, J. Sterling. (Mar. 2014). “About Trees.” The Library of America: Story of the Week (pp. 126-128). Retrieved from: http://www.loa.org/images/pdf/Morton_About_Trees.pdf
“Reduce Global Warming By Planting Trees.” (n.d.). Climate Rally. Retrieved from: http://www.climaterally.org/planting-trees.html