The co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, David Milarch, spoke at [email protected] Valley – Extreme Green in August 2011. Here is his presentation from the event.
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David Milarch, co-founder of Archangel, received a standing ovation at the recent [email protected] Valley event on August 17, 2011. Video from the event will be posted online soon, but in advance of that, please enjoy the text from his talk below.
Transcription from the speech
What I am about to present to you today is only important to those of you who need to breathe fresh air and drink clean water. Really, the rest of you don’t need to pay attention.
We find ourselves at the beginning of this millennium, all of us everywhere, faced with immense environmental challenges. How are we going solve these problems? I am asking everyone listening now to step out of their comfort zone and enter a realm that is so complex that no one person could understand the whole. I am not a Scientist. I am a third generation Nurseryman, so please excuse me if I don’t talk, or look, like a Scientist.
We have been searching this Country and the Globe for the largest, oldest living things on the Planet…Things that were 1,000 years old when Jesus walked Earth; living beings that are older than Stonehenge, older than the pyramids, beings that have lived through the entire Industrial Age. Of course I am talking about the world’s ancient trees.
Our mission is to propagate, archive and help reforest the planet using clones of the world’s oldest, largest trees of each species that will have the greatest positive environmental benefit for the world, We’re collecting samples of the best of the best.
These ancient trees have an unbroken chain of natural selection for tens of thousands of years with a complete memory of how they were able to do what they are doing today…SURVIVE.
We find and collect them (that’s the fun part) by taking small snippets of the their branches which we propagate in our nurseries by natural methods—the way the trees clone themselves, or with a little help from us, the way people for thousands of years have been propagating plants. We don’t modify or insert genes! Sometimes we plant thousands of trials in our nursery to get one living exact copy of the parent. Sometimes we return many years to the same tree to succeed.
When we do succeed, we plant them in archival living libraries. Not just to save for future study and safekeeping, but also to plant these identical offspring in their juvenile state into the remaining old-growth forests to strengthen their species by naturally interbreeding with them. The technology exists to make millions of these available to anyone and everyone who wants to use them to reforest!
Why do we use these ancient trees? They are the proven survivors. Most of the forests of the world have been cut down many times over the last thousands of years, taking the tallest, straightest, oldest trees first in each successive cutting. With each cutting the lesser trees have only the weaker, lesser trees with which to produce seedlings. So the forests that we see today as we travel around the world are primarily the junk of the junk genetically. We’ve taken the best mother trees and we’ve used them to cut up for two by fours and turned them into dollars.
78% of the world’s old-growth forests are gone. In the U.S. 98% of the old-growth forests are gone. We’ve spent our children’s natural inheritance. What happens when we cut down the trees?
They no longer aerosol life-giving oxygen, or consume Carbon dioxide and toxins from our air, soil and water.
One study showed that when Japan cut their coastal forests it ended the local fisheries production, and when they replanted trees, the coastal ecosystem and fish life were restored.
Another study demonstrated that trees neutralize some surprising toxins in our environment, from dry-cleaning solvents, to mercury, to TNT.
A medical study claimed that deforestation and changes in land cover are in part responsible for the resurgence in infectious diseases.
[The data from our cited material is available on the TEDx website.]
The good news is that most trees phyto-remediate and sequester heavy metals, dioxins and toxins, into their trunks and, at the same time, release natural antibiotics, disinfectants, and antifungals that are positive and helpful for all living things. So if we want to clean up our ground water, rivers, lakes, and our oceans we need to put these old gentle giants back to work helping us accomplish that goal.
Now let’s talk about a subject that is near and dear to a lot of us. Let’s talk money. Let’s talk about your money and how these trees can affect your pocketbook and the pocketbook of your community. Over a 50 year lifetime one tree generates …
- $31,250 worth of oxygen
- $62,000 worth of air pollution control
- $37,500 worth of recycled (filtered) water and
- $31,250 worth of soil erosion
- That’s $162,000 per tree.
You can’t really afford not to plant a tree!
People breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Trees produce oxygen and store carbon dioxide in their trunks. We need each other. In one year, a single mature tree can absorb 48 lbs of CO2 and produce enough oxygen to support two people. An acre of trees stores 2.6 tons of carbon annually. Let’s talk about our work with Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoias. Did you know that a mature Coast Redwood could weigh 1,000 tons and 40% of the dry weight of that tree is stored carbon? That’s equal to the size of nine Blue Whales – the largest mammal on earth. Simply put, the Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoias are the number one choice for planting because of their tremendous ability to stack carbon and produce oxygen, and they are not invasive to other species.
Which brings me to the subject of how NASA and we have something in common. How many of you have heard of the Moon Tree? Raise your hands. It’s pretty neat. Forty years ago, Astronaut Stuart Roosa, on Apollo 14, was able to take something into space, to circle the moon with, and he chose a pocket full of tree seeds. Some of those tree seeds were Coast Redwoods. They went with him on the mission. When they returned, they planted those seeds and voila, they grew. You will see a slide here of Dr. Bill Libby, tree geneticist, just on the other side of the Bay with one of your Moon Trees. His tree is now about 60 feet tall!
I would like everyone in the audience and everyone watching to, in their mind’s eye, stand in front of the most beautiful aquarium you have ever seen in your life. What does the water look like? What do the fish look like? What about the plants? You see clear blue water, waving green plants, colorful fish. Now imagine that without you knowing it, someone unplugs the filter on that beautiful aquarium. But you don’t know that, so you go about your business and you come back in about a week to ten days. What do you think that beautiful aquarium will look like now? Will the fish be dead? Will some be gasping for the last amounts of air and oxygen in the water? How about the cloudiness of the water? What will the plants look like? Are they brown?
My friends, that is exactly what we are doing, and have done, when we deforest this planet and remove earth’s natural filter system for our air and our water.
And guess who’s the fish? This is a picture of polluted human lungs.
Now let’s talk about something a little more optimistic.
Let’s talk about resurrection. Let’s talk about the future. Let’s talk about hope. Let’s talk about something we can all do. Here is a picture of a 2,000 year old Coast Redwood stump. The trees that were on these stumps were larger than what is alive today. They were about 2,000-3000 years old. Our group, Archangel, decided we would like to try and resurrect some of these ancient giants that we thought were lost. So we went to work on them and guess what? Voila!
And here is a slide of the identical parent tree, now a rooted sprout, which shortly will be ready to plant. So what does this all mean to you? It means that what we thought was lost; some of the greatest species of trees on earth can now be put back to work as carbon stackers, ecosystem restoration components, and help clean the water and the air for our children and our grandchildren to breathe. And make a significant run after our quest to reverse climate change.
The future begins now. What we are trying to do is create a kinder, gentler, more optimistic future for our children because, right now, our environmental future in 50 years is pretty dark. But if we all together, right now, all of us, decide that we are going to reestablish the filter systems on earth we can begin to help by planting one tree, only one tree in our yard. If we all do that together that will make a significant contribution toward reversing climate change and cleaning the air and the water.
Here are some of the trees that we are producing to make available to the world to do just that. We can make a difference and we will make a difference if we decide to do that. There is an old proverb that says, “When is the best time to plant a tree?” Well, 30 years ago. “When is the second best time to plant a tree?” Right now.
So we are inviting all of you who are watching to join us and help reforest our planet, reestablish the filter systems, clean the air and water that are so important for all living things, cool this planet, capture the carbon that’s choking all of us, and melting our glaciers. We can do that. We can make a good strong run at that if we do it together.
At our organization we have a saying and it goes like this,
“We are all working for our grandchildren” and my friends we invite you to do the same.