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Marrickville Council section of Parramatta Road on right. Leichhardt Council on left

An article was published in Reuters Health this week about research done by Dr Robert A Silverman of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.  Dr Silverman studied the link between particulate matter (pollution from vehicles & coal-fire power plants) & 8,000 heart attacks in New York City between 2002 & 2006.

“As the levels of particulate matter air pollution increased, more cardiac arrests occurred.”

“When they looked at fine particulate matter (particles 2.5 micrometer or less in size), they found that the risk of having a deadly cardiac arrest rose by between 4 & 10% with every 10-microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in fine particulates.” The current EPA standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter is grossly inadequate.

“Being indoors may offer only limited protection since small particles can penetrate into buildings and homes.”

As far as I can ascertain, there are only 3 things that stop particulate matter –

  • removing all vehicles from the roads,
  • closing down coal-fire power stations &
  • trees.

In 2003 there were 204 million vehicles on the road in the US.  This increased to 246 million vehicles on the road by January 2010.  In 2009, there were 50 million more vehicles on US roads than 6 years previously, though in 2010, it dropped to only 46 million more. In comparison, China is estimated to have in excess of 70 million vehicles on the road by the end of 2010 & expected to have over 200 million by 2020. Still they wont have caught up with the Jones’s.

Australian statistics were hard to get though I did find that 13.2 million vehicles, including motorcycles, were registered in Australia at 31 March 2003.  I would expect the numbers to be much higher for 2010.

Worldwide it is predicted there will be 1.2 billion vehicles on the road by 2015.

Only the cost of petrol or a severe shortage of oil is going to bring down vehicle use numbers.  You can see why most cities are trying to encourage public transport use, walking & cycling.

As for coal-fired power stations, Australia does not look like it is planning to reduce or stop them with up to 12 new coal-fired power stations planned across the country.  Unfortunately, in NSW they intend to mine for coal in the small bits of land that is Koala habitat.  If you are interested in this – https://www.savethekoala.com/ is a terrific resource & Deborah’s (Tabart) Diary gives regular updates about the Koala situation in Australia https://www.savethekoala.com/deborahtabartsdesk.html

Everyone loves this end of Crystal Street because of the large trees

Lastly, we come to trees. Trees remove up to 60% of street level particulate matter & dramatically improve air quality, which is why their presence is so important in high traffic areas.  The more trees in an area, the better the air quality. Trees also absorb other pollutants such as Ozone, Nitrogen Dioxide & Sulfur Dioxide through their leaves.

A street tree removes 9 times the amount of air-born pollution from passing traffic than does a tree on a nearby property.  Street trees also improve the air that enters people’s homes, especially important as particulate matter penetrates buildings even when the windows are closed.

Large trees provide the most benefit as they provide greater absorption of particulate matter.  Small stature trees that are the perhaps the most common sized tree across Marrickville LGA have far less ability to do this.

The issue of pollution from vehicles is becoming an issue that is too hard to ignore. I am of the opinion that many of our roads in Marrickville LGA are quite dangerous in this regard due to the large volumes of traffic every day. Even small suburban streets that are more like lanes can have in excess of 7,000 vehicles/day.

If the Marrickville Metro expansion goes ahead there will be a potential loss of 142 trees & an extra 4 million shoppers a year. You can just imagine the air pollution around the surrounding residential streets & the planned plaza.

Parramatta Road & the Princes Highway are mostly treeless in the section that is under the governance of Marrickville Council.  It’s not just a matter of beautifying areas that are seriously lacking in aesthetic beauty, it is a matter of public health.

Parramatta Road under the governance of City of Sydney Council

This problem is not going to go away.   I think the NSW state government should allocate money to Marrickville Council to plant trees on these main roads. This is a major project requiring funds that Marrickville Council cannot afford. For this reason it is imperative that the state government fund it as a special environmental project.   It will save the government much greater amounts of money in the long run as people living in Marrickville LGA may just end up in the health-care system.

The population of Marrickville LGA is going to expand. We will all be living & shopping closer together & despite what the authorities say, I believe that the ‘culture of the car’ is not over by a long-shot.  If I am correct, then the issue of pollution-related illness from vehicles is going to spike in the Inner West & we are going to need many more trees to try & lessen the particulate matter that the residents & workers are breathing in.

On 29th June 2010 I posted ‘Living close to a main road is bad for your heath’ which discusses this issue further.

https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/living-close-to-a-main-road-is-bad-for-your-health/

To read the article with a link to the research paper – http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100916/hl_nm/us_pollution_cardiac

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Trees are featuring in the news a lot at the moment, which is good to see.  The following is what I found most interesting.

1.  In Camden LGA vandals have been ripping out & chopping down street trees after dark. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/outrage-growing-over-tree-vandalism-in-camden/

2.  Similar vandalism in Northbridge with community fruit trees that were part of Willoughby Council’s Sustainability Street program were stolen last month. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-sour-at-theft/

3.  In Western Australia the government is planning to log a Dardanup forest containing 500 year old Jarrah trees, which they can’t guarantee will be spared. The Preston Environment Group are fighting to save this forest.  These trees will make the princely sum of between $160,000 & $240,000.  Is nothing sacred anymore? http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/6894699/plan-to-log-500-year-old-trees/

4.  Residents in Dee Why are lobbying Warringah Council who are set to vote on a DA that will remove a healthy 45 year old Angophora just to fit 3 more units into a development.  A resident asked, “Why is it that developers have so much power over Warringah Council, yet local residents who have lived in the area for over 15 years & wildlife that use the tree as a habitat have been left helpless?” Sounds familiar? http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/old-tree-to-make-room-for-development-in-dy/

5.  The traditional owners of the Murray-Riverina Red Gum forest called for the forest to be managed by the traditional owners. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/01/2833148.htm

Later, federal minister Peter Garrett supported Premier Kristina Kenneally by agreeing to allow some logging to occur for the next 5 years despite prolonged activism to save these very special & unique forests.   It’s a hard decision to understand or support. http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/local/6881475/red-gum-park-decision-miserable/

6.  Residents are fighting Sunshine Coast Regional Council who have removed 2 Hills Figs & want to remove another 20 trees in Caloundra, South East QLD. A residents said, “Without the trees, Bulcock St is going to be another hot, characterless urban strip….” They will certainly bake.

Interesting, as my experience of this area of QLD is that there were large trees everywhere, including along shopping strips.  There were also massive garden beds & a green outlook that the locals were very proud of.  The area looked totally unlike Sydney. Perhaps the fact that much of the planting & maintenance was done by people serving Community Service Orders helped get such a green outlook.  Maybe, but there is also a culture which is pro-nature in QLD. The comments are overwhelming in support of retaining the trees. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/residents-angry-over-plans-to-remove-bulcock-st-trees/story-e6freoof-1225821748442 and today – http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2010/03/06/800-join-fight-to-save-trees/

7.  A November 2009 article from The Canberra Times because the trees in the ACT are mostly mature & the Council want to remove & replace them all.  Pertinent to Marrickville Council’s recent proposal to remove 59% of the public trees across the LGA.  A great many of the street & park trees in Canberra are Eucalypt’s & the city & suburbs are full of native birds because of this.   This article questions chopping a tree down if a branch falls & the issue of litigation.  Again, the comments are very interesting. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/greens-call-for-trees-probe/1673875.aspx

8.  In overseas news, the United Nation’s Billion Tree Campaign has reached 10 billion trees.  The BTC was launched in 2006.  170 countries participate & the latest to join were China late 2009 & India last February.  India has planted 6.1 billion trees since 2006 & 2.6 billion of these trees have been added to the UN’s program.

The UN says worldwide, 14 billion trees need to be planted annually to combat global warming.  This initiative is seriously tackling the serious problem of global deforestation.   Australia is a participant with the Boy Scouts planting trees.   I was unable to find out any other information about Australia’s input other than this reference.  http://www.prokerala.com/news/articles/a117813.html

So many of our street trees across Marrickville LGA try to survive in such dreadful conditions when it could have easily been fixed

9.  Not only is India making the news for their massive & commendable tree planting achievements (they don’t argue about the reality of climate change because they are living it), they have also an amazing High Court.  Why?  Because Delhi’s High Court ordered all concrete around street trees to be finished being removed within 3 months starting last week. 9,395 trees will have the concrete removed from around their trunk.  I wish the Delhi High Court had jurisdiction here. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Remove-concrete-near-trees-in-3-months–HC/586569/

10.  New York City’s Million Trees program has planted over 300,000 trees since it began in 2007 focusing on all the empty street tree sites as well as areas of land which are bare. They call it “revolutionizing urban street tree programs.”  Over 1,000 volunteers showed up to plant 20,000 trees on one day. I love this program.  There are Million Tree programs in other cities across America & they are all successful.  Not only do they result in a significant increase in the green canopy, programs like these educate people about the benefits of trees & by offering regular days where the community can be actively involved, create pride & ownership in the community. http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/02/24/2010-02-24_big_town_going_green_trees_bring_green_benefits_to_the_city.html#ixzz0h3k2oVDW

11.  In Wellesley, Massachusetts USA more than 90 trees that were almost 100 years old & were 60-70 foot tall were chopped down by accident. How does this happen?  Were the lumberjacks talking & just numbed out for a moment? http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/18/scores_of_trees_felled_in_error_on_wellesley_park_land/

12.  In a generous green act, Chris Clark from Middle Tennessee USA is donating 100,000 trees in memory of his father who died 6 years ago.  This is a fantastic gift to the community & further confirms my belief that people like to plant trees in memory of a loved one.  http://www.wkrn.com/global/story.asp?s=12087906

13.  2,500 shade street trees are to be planted in Worchester USA to replace the same amount of street trees which were recently lost to the Asian Long-Horned Beetle.  Where trees will be affected by overhead powerlines, they are planting ornamental trees & larger shade trees everywhere else.  The comments after the article are quite interesting. http://www.telegram.com/article/20100302/NEWS/3020415/1116

14.   In Lichfield Connecticut USA, it is illegal to tie a yellow ribbon around an old Oak tree or any tree for that matter even if it is to honor troops in Iraq & Afghanistan.  I anticipate there will be peaceful civil disobedience about this.  http://www.wfsb.com/news/22703733/detail.html

young Oak street tree

15.  Lastly, a Welsh Oak tree died of the cold aged 1,200 years. (not a typo)  It had a girth of 10.36 metres.  It was called The Great Oak at the Gates of the Dead. From the article, According to legend, in 1165, King Henry II of England, preparing to meet Owain Gwynedd in the Battle of Crogen, commanded his men to clear Ceiriog Woods, but ordered the Great Oak to be spared. I bet there are many people who are very upset about the loss of this tree.  It reached an astounding age & if it weren’t for the extreme weather this last winter, it may have lived for much longer.  http://greenanswers.com/news/127110/winter-overcomes-1200-year-old-oak

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