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The problem with us “tree-huggers” is supposed to be that we care about plants more than humans. But people who think “tree-hugger” is an insult fail to realize that tree-huggers are just as self-interested as anyone else. You think we hug trees for the fun of it? Trees are like the least cuddly thing around! We just happen to realize that humans will be better off if we can look after other creatures too — especially trees, which make us richer and smarter and, it turns out, may make us live longer too.

Treehugger (appropriately) writes about a study showing that killing trees is actually quite bad for humans:

A team from the U.S. Forest Service, led by Geoffrey Donovan, set out to see what effect the loss of all these trees was having, if any, on human health. … After adjusting their findings for demographic variables, like income and education, the team discovered a startling association: fewer trees aligned with more human deaths.

Correlation, as always, isn’t causation, but there’s reason to believe that killing trees really does lower overall health. Those deaths came from cardiovascular and respiratory tract problems. It’s not a huge jump to think that more trees might have helped prevent those deaths by keeping people from stressing out and cleaning the air. Whatever the nature of the link, the scientists think their work “provides stronger evidence of causality.”

“This finding adds to the growing evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits,” they write. Jeez, tree-huggers. It’s almost like you want to people to live happier and healthier lives.