The Man Who Planted Trees: A Story of Lost Groves, the Science of Trees, and a Plan to Save the Planet

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The Man Who Planted Trees is the inspiring story of David Milarch’s quest to clone the biggest trees on the planet in order to save our forests and ecosystem—as well as a hopeful lesson about how each of us has the ability to make a difference.

“When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. The second best time? Today.”—Chinese proverb
 
Twenty years ago, David Milarch, a northern Michigan nurseryman with a penchant for hard living, had a vision: angels came to tell him that the earth was in trouble. Its trees were dying, and without them, human life was in jeopardy. The solution, they told him, was to clone the champion trees of the world—the largest, the hardiest, the ones that had survived millennia and were most resilient to climate change—and create a kind of Noah’s ark of tree genetics. Without knowing if the message had any basis in science, or why he’d been chosen for this task, Milarch began his mission of cloning the world’s great trees. Many scientists and tree experts told him it couldn’t be done, but, twenty years later, his team has successfully cloned some of the world’s oldest trees—among them giant redwoods and sequoias. They have also grown seedlings from the oldest tree in the world, the bristlecone pine Methuselah.
 
When New York Times journalist Jim Robbins came upon Milarch’s story, he was fascinated but had his doubts. Yet over several years, listening to Milarch and talking to scientists, he came to realize that there is so much we do not yet know about trees: how they die, how they communicate, the myriad crucial ways they filter water and air and otherwise support life on Earth. It became clear that as the planet changes, trees and forest are essential to assuring its survival.

Praise for The Man Who Planted Trees
 
“This is a story of miracles and obsession and love and survival. Told with Jim Robbins’s signature clarity and eye for telling detail, The Man Who Planted Trees is also the most hopeful book I’ve read in years. I kept thinking of the end of Saint Francis’s wonderful prayer, ‘And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.’ ”—Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

“Absorbing, eloquent, and loving . . . While Robbins’s tone is urgent, it doesn’t compromise his crystal-clear science. . . . Even the smallest details here are fascinating.”—Dominique Browning, The New York Times Book Review

“The great poet W. S. Merwin once wrote, ‘On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree.’ It’s good to see, in this lovely volume, that some folks are getting a head start!”—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“Inspiring . . . Robbins lucidly summarizes the importance and value of trees to planet Earth and all humanity.”The Ecologist
 
“ ‘Imagine a world without trees,’ writes journalist Jim Robbins. It’s nearly impossible after reading The Man Who Planted Trees, in which Robbins weaves science and spirituality as he explores the bounty these plants offer the planet.”Audubon


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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More by Jim Robbins

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A fascinating investigation into the miraculous world of birds and the powerful—and surprising—ways they enrich our lives and sustain the planet

Our relationship to birds is different from our relationship to any other wild creatures. They are found virtually everywhere and we love to watch them, listen to them, keep them as pets, wear their feathers, even converse with them. Birds, Jim Robbins posits, are our most vital connection to nature. They compel us to look to the skies, both literally and metaphorically; draw us out into nature to seek their beauty; and let us experience vicariously what it is like to be weightless. Birds have helped us in so many of our human endeavors: learning to fly, providing clothing and food, and helping us better understand the human brain and body. And they even have much to teach us about being human in the natural world.

This book illuminates qualities unique to birds that demonstrate just how invaluable they are to humankind—both ecologically and spiritually. The wings of turkey buzzards influenced the Wright brothers’ flight design; the chickadee’s song is considered by scientists to be the most sophisticated language in the animal world and a “window into the evolution of our own language and our society”; and the quietly powerful presence of eagles in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C., proved to be an effective method for rehabilitating the troubled young people placed in charge of their care.

Exploring both cutting-edge scientific research and our oldest cultural beliefs, Robbins moves these astonishing creatures from the background of our lives to the foreground, from the quotidian to the miraculous, showing us that we must fight to save imperiled bird populations and the places they live, for the sake of both the planet and humankind.

Praise for The Wonder of Birds

“A must-read, conveying much necessary information in easily accessible form and awakening one’s consciousness to what might otherwise be taken for granted . . . The Wonder of Birds reads like the story of a kid let loose in a candy store and given free rein to sample. That is one of its strengths: the convert’s view gives wide appeal to those who might never have known birds well.”—Bernd Heinrich, The Wall Street Journal

“Engaging, thoughtful . . . worthy of a place alongside David Attenborough’s documentary The Life of Birds or Graeme Gibson’s The Bedside Book of Birds . . . This offering will appeal to naturalists, anthropologists, linguists, and even philosophers as well as to lay readers.”—Library Journal

“In this deeply felt and well-supported argument for avians’ value to humankind, science writer Robbins hits the full trifecta for engrossing and satisfying nature writing.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Using enchanting stories and rich historical references, Jim Robbins explores the role of birds on the evolution of human self-awareness.”—Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

“It’s one for the birds—what a wonderful book! It will give you wings.”—Rita Mae Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Rubyfruit Jungle

“The Wonder of Birds provides a great and well-timed gift: a portrait of the quiet miracles around us on each day of our ordinary lives.”—Michael Punke, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Revenant

“Jim Robbins writes masterfully, with lucid prose and deep insight into the human psyche and natural world.”—Peter Stark, author of Astoria
4.5
14 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Spiegel & Grau
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Published on
Apr 17, 2012
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781588369994
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Ecology
Nature / Plants / Trees
Science / Global Warming & Climate Change
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A fascinating investigation into the miraculous world of birds and the powerful—and surprising—ways they enrich our lives and sustain the planet

Our relationship to birds is different from our relationship to any other wild creatures. They are found virtually everywhere and we love to watch them, listen to them, keep them as pets, wear their feathers, even converse with them. Birds, Jim Robbins posits, are our most vital connection to nature. They compel us to look to the skies, both literally and metaphorically; draw us out into nature to seek their beauty; and let us experience vicariously what it is like to be weightless. Birds have helped us in so many of our human endeavors: learning to fly, providing clothing and food, and helping us better understand the human brain and body. And they even have much to teach us about being human in the natural world.

This book illuminates qualities unique to birds that demonstrate just how invaluable they are to humankind—both ecologically and spiritually. The wings of turkey buzzards influenced the Wright brothers’ flight design; the chickadee’s song is considered by scientists to be the most sophisticated language in the animal world and a “window into the evolution of our own language and our society”; and the quietly powerful presence of eagles in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Anacostia, in Washington, D.C., proved to be an effective method for rehabilitating the troubled young people placed in charge of their care.

Exploring both cutting-edge scientific research and our oldest cultural beliefs, Robbins moves these astonishing creatures from the background of our lives to the foreground, from the quotidian to the miraculous, showing us that we must fight to save imperiled bird populations and the places they live, for the sake of both the planet and humankind.

Praise for The Wonder of Birds

“A must-read, conveying much necessary information in easily accessible form and awakening one’s consciousness to what might otherwise be taken for granted . . . The Wonder of Birds reads like the story of a kid let loose in a candy store and given free rein to sample. That is one of its strengths: the convert’s view gives wide appeal to those who might never have known birds well.”—Bernd Heinrich, The Wall Street Journal

“Engaging, thoughtful . . . worthy of a place alongside David Attenborough’s documentary The Life of Birds or Graeme Gibson’s The Bedside Book of Birds . . . This offering will appeal to naturalists, anthropologists, linguists, and even philosophers as well as to lay readers.”—Library Journal

“In this deeply felt and well-supported argument for avians’ value to humankind, science writer Robbins hits the full trifecta for engrossing and satisfying nature writing.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Using enchanting stories and rich historical references, Jim Robbins explores the role of birds on the evolution of human self-awareness.”—Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

“It’s one for the birds—what a wonderful book! It will give you wings.”—Rita Mae Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Rubyfruit Jungle

“The Wonder of Birds provides a great and well-timed gift: a portrait of the quiet miracles around us on each day of our ordinary lives.”—Michael Punke, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Revenant

“Jim Robbins writes masterfully, with lucid prose and deep insight into the human psyche and natural world.”—Peter Stark, author of Astoria
• New York Times bestseller •

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