Trees are more than just a habitat for birds or a nice thing to look at — they help us breathe! A tree has the ability to provide an essential of life for all living things on our planet – oxygen, and the power to remove harmful gases like carbon dioxide making the air we breathe healthier.
As humans, we breathe in air, which contains oxygen. Oxygen is essential for us and all other animals to survive. Once we breathe in oxygen, our body uses it to produce energy. This process is known as respiration. During respiration, both energy and a gas known as carbon dioxide are produced. When we breathe out, the carbon dioxide that is produced is released into the air.
Plants such as trees, on the other hand, can take in this carbon dioxide, which is unusable for humans, and use it to produce their own energy.
They do this by a process known as photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, plants take in light from the sun and, through a complex series of steps, use this sunlight, carbon dioxide from the air, and water that they take in through their roots to produce sugars, which can be used by the plant and oxygen, and is then sent into the air.
Through photosynthesis, humans can again breathe in the oxygen that was produced and survive. Photosynthesis and respiration are the two essential processes that allow life to sustain on earth.
Trees also store carbon dioxide in their fibers helping to clean the air and reduce the negative effects that this CO2 could have had on our environment. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, in one year a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange.
So next time you take a deep breath of air give credit to a tree or hug a tree in thanks for what it gives us – the very air we breathe.