When Trees Die, People Die

Did that phrase get your attention? It should.

This was the title of an article in the Atlantic in 2013. And it is not poetic and abstract but factual and worthy of note. You will hear it referenced on Thursday night at the Floyd Country Store at the showing of “In Search of Balance.”

The inter-relationship between natural health and human health is part of the imbalance being addressed by this film and the panel discussion (Jane Cundiff and Barbara Pleasant) afterward.

The film is seen as an appropriate introduction to the first Floyd County Health Faire to be held at the high school on April 1.

My take-away from the movie that Jane and I reviewed a few weeks ago is this: the three realms consisting of human health, environmental health and the economy are circles that do not overlap. They should.

We should change our thinking to consider One Health: for people, planet and for profit–the so-called Triple Bottom Line.

By the way, the emerald ash borer has recently been found in the Roanoke Valley. So what?

Invasive species pose serious danger to humans | Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies 

“This study was based on a careful analysis of death records in counties with and without ash borers, before and after the borer invasion. The study found that invaded counties had more than 20,000 extra deaths after the borers invaded (but not before), even after accounting for factors such as income, age and ethnicity. The authors are quick to caution that this association does not prove ash borers caused people to die. It is just the obvious explanation.

How can this be possible? The borers don’t attack people, and the dead people weren’t killed by falling branches. Instead, the authors of the study suggest that extensive losses of ash trees caused beauty and environmental quality to decline in affected areas, which led to 20,000 extra human deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory problems.”

Because I know you are all planning to join us for the pot luck and movie and want to be informed at the git-go, you can look over my shoulder at the notes I took while previewing the film, and the links I’ve added to explore topics in greater depth.

Fred’s NOTES AND LINKS for Search for Balance

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I have always had a close affinity with trees, and valued each and every one of them (even naming them!) that grew in our tree-stunted area of the Canadian North. I believe this research. So sad, and so true!