Out on a Limb

Emerald Ash Borer adultBrian Thomas’ latest – Do People Live Longer among Trees? – has to be seen to be believed:

Could living near trees possibly affect human health? Increasingly, studies indicate that trees can improve human health. Evolution doesn’t expect this, but biblically speaking, trees and people have close ties.

Even for Brian this article is breathtaking. The subject is a recent paper, called The relationship between trees and human health (pdf), which set out to investigate a potential “relationship between the natural environment and improved health outcomes.” This was done by looking at changes in mortality in US counties that had been invaded by the emerald ash borer, which wipes out ash trees. Controlling for other variables – something which Brian describes as taking “steps to demonstrate that living longer was not linked to living among trees” – they discovered that there really was a correlation between tree death and human death. Continue reading