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Death of Trees Correlated With Human Cardiovascular & Respiratory Disease

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the newspapers-now-a-public-health-menace dept.

Earth 152

eldavojohn writes "PBS's NewsHour interviewed Geoffrey Donovan on his recent research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine that noted a correlation between trees (at least the 22 North American ash varieties) and human health: 'Well my basic hypothesis was that trees improve people's health. And if that's true, then killing 100 million of them in 10 years should have an effect. So if we take away these 100 million trees, does the health of humans suffer? We found that it does.' The basis of this research is Agrilus planipennis, the emerald ash borer, has systematically destroyed 100 million trees in the eastern half of the United States since 2002. After accounting for all variables, the research found that an additional 15,000 people died from cardiovascular disease and 6,000 more from lower respiratory disease in the 15 states infected with the bug, compared with uninfected areas of the country. While the exact cause and effect remains unknown, this research appears to be reinforcing data for people who regularly enjoy forest bathing as well as providing evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits."

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152 comments

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Deforestation != Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43976961)

I thought I'd try to be different :)

After accounting for all variables *they know of* (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43976989)

Those three words make a huge difference...

Re:After accounting for all variables *they know o (1, Flamebait)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43977701)

Yes, between scientists and religious idiots. Scientists acknowledge they don't know everything. Idiots assume they do, or at least that knowing everything is possible.

Re:After accounting for all variables *they know o (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977793)

STFU.

How many stupid studies end up being wrong because these morons didn't account for all the variables. This is bad for you! Wait, no,. it's not, Wait, yes it is!

What they found was correlation, not causation. Yet it will be on the news tomorrow morning as some bimbo with fake tits, all serious like, informs us that cutting trees will lead to you getting lung cancer.

Re: After accounting for all variables *they know (4, Informative)

DarrenBaker (322210) | about a year ago | (#43977901)

That would be the *media's* fault for cherry-picking the language and the studies. If you ever really drill down into a study, you'll find a metric shit-tonne of ambiguous language the media turns into certainties.

Re:After accounting for all variables *they know o (1)

gnick (1211984) | about a year ago | (#43977905)

After accounting for all details, I've determined that exposure to matter created by the emerald ash borer is harmful to humans. The general level of health should be restored if Im given a grant to kill all ash trees to drive the emerald ash borer to extinction.

Re:After accounting for all variables *they know o (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about a year ago | (#43977949)

...that noted a correlation between trees (at least the 22 North American ash varieties) and human health...

While the exact cause and effect remains unknown...

He's claiming correlation, not causation.

Before assuming "they didn't control for" (5, Insightful)

pepty (1976012) | about a year ago | (#43976991)

and posting your indignant observation, please check and see if they did.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | about a year ago | (#43977033)

Want to bet that this will be exhibited soon as a poster child of spurious significance and poor statistical analysis?

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (3, Funny)

thedonger (1317951) | about a year ago | (#43977749)

My study found a similar correlation between cardiovascular and respiratory disease and radio stations whose names begin with "W" compared to those beginning with "K."

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43977899)

"Want to bet that this will be exhibited soon as a poster child of spurious significance and poor statistical analysis?"

As Darrell Huff, author of the 1954 classic How To Lie With Statistics pointed out, the salaries of Protestant ministers at the time was very strongly correlated with the price of Jamaican rum.

The point being: so what? A correlation is all well and good, but the chances are overwhelming that it means exactly shit.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43977077)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23332329 [nih.gov] you go first, I see none.

Anyways, it makes sense that air quality is worse in areas with less trees leading to higher rates of lung disease, but we didn't need this study to affirm that. Just drive in a major city on a hot afternoon and check out the smog.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43977187)

There's things you think you know that are obvious, and then there's actual science.

Sometimes, you need the proper study just to verify your hunch isn't entirely wrong -- everything else is an anecdote or a guess.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977421)

There's things you think you know that are obvious, and then there's actual science.

There are obvious obviouses; there are things we obviously know are obvious.
There are obvious deepnesses; that is to say, there are things we obviously know are quite non-trival.
But there are also deep deepnesses – there are things about which we don’t have a freaking clue.

Sometimes, you need the proper study just to verify your hunch isn't entirely wrong -- everything else is an anecdote or a guess.

You publish with the study you have---not the study you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43977497)

And then there's people who after having an eye poked out will refuse to draw any conclusions about eyes and vision until they poke the other eye out.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (4, Informative)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#43977683)

Speaking of poking out eyes, I have long known that EAB (Emerald Ash Borer) has been affecting human health, and you would too if you watch much baseball.

The death of ash due to EAB has caused a significant uptick in the amount of bats made from maple instead of ash. Maple doesn't have the same kind of durability that ash does, and what you end up with are bats that are easier to break. On any given night, you can see highlights of some pitcher nearly losing his face because a large chunk of maple is flying at him. You almost never saw this when bats where made exclusively from ash, as maple is simply more brittle and not as elastic.

Save a pitcher, plant an ash!

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43978119)

It is pretty scary to see bat fragments flying nearly as far as the ball night after night. It's a miracle we don't see more injuries.

At least it's not as bas as it was a couple years ago when it seemed like every hit broke a bat.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43977665)

Sometimes, you need the proper study just to verify your hunch isn't entirely wrong -- everything else is an anecdote or a guess.

Or exploratory research. :)

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43977729)

Anyways, it makes sense that air quality is worse in areas with less trees leading to higher rates of lung disease, but we didn't need this study to affirm that. Just drive in a major city on a hot afternoon and check out the smog.

That wouldn't tell you if it was the trees that made the difference. To say that, you'd need to go to a forested area, kill the trees, then compare health before to after. Or, in this case, allow insects to do the killing.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (4, Insightful)

Nathan Bubna (2882333) | about a year ago | (#43977171)

Sorry but the very phrase "After accounting for all variables" when doing statistical analysis on any complex real-life scenario is laughable. We don't even know all the variables, much less have rigorous data for them all.

I think their theory is probably right. It makes a lot of sense and the data we do have does fit. But this is statistics, not science; correlation, not proof of causation. It is far from being without value, but it is also far from being conclusive or thorough. It is merely as thorough as it could be given available data.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (2)

BradleyAndersen (1195415) | about a year ago | (#43977269)

Would you know what to do with the data if the author provided it?
Have you read the linked article to determine what should have been accounted for, but was not?

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (2)

repvik (96666) | about a year ago | (#43977303)

Irrelevant. We cannot possibly know "all variables" - and thus stating that all variables have been accounted for is bunk.
However, that doesn't mean that the study is wrong - it's just not good enough.

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (4, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43977541)

By that criterion, no study of anything ever has been good enough because we NEVER know for a fact that we have covered all variables.

'good enough' is only knowable in retrospect since at the time, we (by definition) didn't know about the unknown variables..

Re:Before assuming "they didn't control for" (1)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about a year ago | (#43978033)

How would you KNOW its 'not good enough'? What would even define something as not good enough? This is a stastical study. It demonstrates certain correlation (R) factors between variables. This suggests there is a causal relationship, either direct or indirect. If you are going to say that "because there could be confounding factors that haven't been factored out" the study is automatically worthless then you have just rejected 99.9% of all the scientific research ever done. It makes no sense at all.

Clearly this sort of study is only an observation, suggesting certain hypotheses, possibly falsifying others to some extent. Obviously more research will be needed, but this is pretty close to always true.

Classic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977001)

This is a classical logical fallacy: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation

Re:Classic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977157)

Please quote to me where causation was claimed.

Re:Classic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977351)

As much as I dislike reading summaries for people.....

From TFS:

"And if that's true, then killing 100 million of them in 10 years should have an effect. So if we take away these 100 million trees, does the health of humans suffer? We found that it does.'"

I don't see how that doesn't claim causation.

Re:Classic (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about a year ago | (#43978051)

From TFS:

"that noted a correlation between trees (at least the 22 North American ash varieties) and human health" and "While the exact cause and effect remains unknown, this research appears to..."

He's claiming correlation, not causation.

Re:Classic (3, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43977403)

Reread the OP, and the linked article.

The linked article states so in the abstract itself, using weasel words of "provides stronger evidence of causality".

The OP also strongly suggests it by mentioning asinine "forest bathing".

I will gladly go out on a limb (so to speak) and predict the ultimate validation of my use of "asinine".

Is there anything else you'd like me to do for you?

wouldn't it be nice to have (2)

etash (1907284) | about a year ago | (#43977007)

a cabin in the woods? complete with a cinema nearby, hospital, supermarket, grocery and all the facilities we need every day..well maybe some small roads connecting them..oh wait!

Re:wouldn't it be nice to have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977145)

We all just need to plant (borer-resistant) ash trees in our yards. Then we'll live forever!

Re:wouldn't it be nice to have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977179)

You're joking; but there are places like that. Until recently there were even reasonably priced places like that; but the California housing bubble is coming back.

There are downsides of course, such as these places not being where most of the jobs are, the hills sliding out from underneath you, the trees falling on your house, earthquakes, fires, floods. But hey, the air *is* great. Priorities. It's all about priorities. Personally, I'm fine driving to the woods once in a while. When rain taps on the roof it's soothing and helps me sleep. If Iived up in those hills, I'd be worried whenever it rained.

Re:wouldn't it be nice to have (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43977399)

There are downsides of course, such as these places not being where most of the jobs are, the hills sliding out from underneath you, the trees falling on your house, earthquakes, fires, floods. But hey, the air *is* great. Priorities. It's all about priorities. Personally, I'm fine driving to the woods once in a while. When rain taps on the roof it's soothing and helps me sleep. If Iived up in those hills, I'd be worried whenever it rained.

Uh, FWIW, not all the peaceful, verdant forests of the nation are located within the borders of CA.

In fact, the vast majority of them aren't.

Right on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977035)

So if I print more, my commute time decreases?

Bad science (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43977043)

Take a good look guys. This guy just committed a basic mistake in method. He made a leap unsupported by the facts. The presence and quantity of trees may be correlated with healthier people, but that in no way means there's a connection. He hasn't controlled for environmental factors. The most basic would be answering the question -- why are there more trees in a given area? In densely populated urban areas, there will be fewer trees, obviously... and we know cities have more pollution than a prestine wilderness. But that doesn't mean the trees are what's making people healthy... it could just be that the absence of pollution is.

This is an incomplete analysis and an attempt by an amateur scientist to start with a conclusion and work his way back to find supporting facts, while ignoring the fact that in science, you do things the other way around. And if you don't, you get crap like this.

I'm not about to go throw myself in a lake and start tree bathing because I think it'll improve my health... at best it'll be a placebo reaction. At worst, it'll kill me due to my allergies. What I'd do instead is try to find populations where trees are present at various threshold concentrations and match the environments as closely as possible so the only control would be the number of trees in a given area, and see if the correlation still holds.

Oh, and something to be aware of... richer neighborhoods have more trees than poorer neighborhoods, to the point that if you take satellite photography of a large metropolitan area, that alone can predict to a high degree of accuracy where the rich people live. Is this because they can afford to keep their environment cleaner as well?

You have to control for human behavior in this, or your analysis is broken.

Re:Bad science (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about a year ago | (#43977135)

Mod parent up. The proposed hypothesis does not include a necessary and sufficient statement of falsifiability.

Re:Bad science (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43977563)

So finding no correlation wouldn't falsify a hypothesis that there is a correlation?

Re:Bad science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977215)

Mod parent up.
Bad, bad science.

Re:Bad science (1)

aflag (941367) | about a year ago | (#43977235)

Have you read tfa?

Re:Bad science (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977237)

> Take a good look guys.

Too bad you didn't.

> -- why are there more trees in a given area

Isn't what this work studied. They correlated a specific insect cause of tree death with human welfare. The methodology was specifically constructed to remove confounding factors— things like air pollution killing both the trees and the humans.

That isn't to say the research is flawless but it was deeper and more carefully constructed that your slashdot arm-chair-expert off the hip comment gives it credit for.

Re:Bad science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977457)

Nonsense.

They "accounted for all variables" ALL! with regard to human health over 15 states!

Hell, maybe it's the color GREEN that makes people healthier? or the insect feces? Oh, but they accounted for that, I'm sure.

Do you know how damn difficult it is too study human health in controlled trials? Give me a break.

Re:Bad science (4, Informative)

gr8_phk (621180) | about a year ago | (#43977981)

The data they collected is by county. There are 3143 counties in the US. The Ash borer problem only affected about 15 states over a known period of time. This has the potential to have very good data (I have not seen the actual study but did follow the link to summary). The time period they were looking at included the time Vioxx was on the market, so there's one interesting thing they must have seen - but that didn't correlate with which state had ash trees dying. No doubt there were other things present in the data, but that didn't correlate with the bug-affected areas. Remember, you can pull some bullshit thing out of your ass and say "not accounted for" but unless your bullshit correlates with the areas affected by the bugs and trees then it probably HAS been accounted for by the correlation statistics.

Science is increasingly being used like a religion - even on slashdot. Use it to support the things you like and complain about it when it suggests something you disagree with, and either way don't bother to RTFA.

Re:Bad science (1)

BradleyAndersen (1195415) | about a year ago | (#43977251)

While healthy cynicism is good in all things, did you not see this bit:

while controlling for a wide range of demographic covariates

as pointed out earlier here [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Bad science (1)

BradleyAndersen (1195415) | about a year ago | (#43977279)

I meant this one [slashdot.org] , sorry :)

Re: Bad science (3, Insightful)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | about a year ago | (#43977295)

There's no claim that health was correlated with the presence of trees. The claim is that health is correlated with the presence of something that kills the trees, effectively at random (or at least in a way which is uncorrelated with anything that also directly affects human health) making this quite a neat natural experiment. Your arguments about other confounding factors don't hold in this case. look up natural experiments or instrumental variables if you want to know more about the method.

Re: Bad science (2)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a year ago | (#43977819)

Yep. As someone who loves the outdoors and intentionally does not have air conditioning (so the windows will be open, letting in the nearby forest breezes in), I would be very curious to see how it correlates with the local tree-killing pest: pine beetles. That's more of a "western states" problem, since we don't have nearly as many aspen and other deciduous trees here.

Re:Bad science (1)

pepty (1976012) | about a year ago | (#43977297)

But that doesn't mean the trees are what's making people healthy... it could just be that the absence of pollution is.

I agree they needed better matching controls in the study, but one thing trees do in urban environments is help remove air pollution.

Re:Bad science (3, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#43977861)

Not only that, but ash are a tree that does this better than others. There is a reason ash are commonly used as a 'street tree', and that is because they are effective cleaners of the particulates in the air while remaining healthy themselves.

I think an interesting extension of the study would be to look at any similar effects found in the West as a result of MPB (Mountain Pine Beetle). I'm not sure how different the loss of biomass is between MPB and EAB, but I can say I've never seen ash forests tens of thousands of acres in size be completely devastated where tree mortality is clearly over 90%.

With MPB, you have a much larger (and concentrated) loss of biomass while at the same time it is occurring in less densely populated (human-wise) geographies.

Re:Bad science (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#43977465)

Seriously, did you even read the damned summary before you post? They controlled for demographic variables over time. The exact quote from the abstract is "Two fixed-effects regression models were used to estimate the relationship between emerald ash borer presence and county-level mortality from 1990 to 2007 in 15 U.S. states, while controlling for a wide range of demographic covariates." But yeah, I'm sure you identified the major problem with the whole study in 10 seconds. A study that was done over several years analyzing 17 years of collected data. But it's wrong, because there is absolutely no way they thought to correct for human behavior, no matter what the summary says.

Oh, hey, whats that, they controlled for income? Even spelled out that the effect of the ash borer was greater in wealthier regions thanks to the greater amounts of tree cover? Well, what do you know, scientists can sometimes actually know what they're talking about! Shocking, I know.

Next time, you could even try reading the full paper [researchgate.net] before you comment and call them "amateur scientists." Especially when they, you know, have already thought of everything you've pointed out.

Re:Bad science (0)

DeathGrippe (2906227) | about a year ago | (#43977623)

Like the canary in the coal mine. When the bird drops dead, no one would claim that the dead bird caused the gas that killed it, and no fool would stay in there long enough to succumb.

Similarly, climate change deniers have a problem understanding that the messenger is not the problem, or the cause of it.

Re:Bad science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978003)

I was surprised it took this long for some moron to bring up AGW.

Do you blame your limp dick on AGW also>?

Re:Bad science (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | about a year ago | (#43978125)

If and when AGW proponents start treating the issue seriously and try to solve it rather than make shitloads off of pecuniary schemes that would at best mitigate less than 10% of any harmful effects(assuming arguendo that their models are correct) while simultaneously greatly reducing quality of life, I will start to take them seriously. Since there's virtually no one demanding massive amounts of money be put into carbon sink research and major geoengineering projects, that time has not yet come.

Re:Bad science (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43977673)

Did you read even the summary?

The most basic would be answering the question -- why are there more trees in a given area?

Because the pine borer killed them.

In densely populated urban areas, there will be fewer trees, obviously... and we know cities have more pollution than a prestine wilderness. But that doesn't mean the trees are what's making people healthy... it could just be that the absence of pollution is.

The areas are the same. They compared before the bugs killed the trees to after. Human health declined with the trees. Again, same areas. Presumably the bugs didn't move in and build coal fired power plants.

This is an incomplete analysis and an attempt by an amateur scientist to start with a conclusion and work his way back to find supporting facts, while ignoring the fact that in science, you do things the other way around. And if you don't, you get crap like this.

She says, evidently having argued against the title and working back to what the paper must have said rather than reading the paper first. Also, there are seven authors. So not "an amateur scientist" but "seven amateur scientists." Not that I'm quite clear what an amateur scientist is: they all work at research institutions of some sort or another.

Re:Bad science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977745)

Unpossible! You might as well believe in the flying spaghettimonster It makes just as much sense as this steaming pile of turd.

Re:Bad science (2)

Wraithlyn (133796) | about a year ago | (#43977883)

It takes a special kind of arrogance to assume these scientists (including the ones that peer reviewed the work for publication) aren't aware that "correlation doesn't prove causation". I mean seriously? You really think nobody thought of this incredibly obvious fact you're pointing out? You think the "after accounting for all variables" right there in the summary, means absolutely nothing at all?

As others (like Baloroth below) have pointed out, you clearly HAVEN'T "taken a good look" at the study, and the things they DID control for. Or in other words... you started with a conclusion of your own ("this study is BS"), and didn't even BOTHER looking for supporting facts.

to start with a conclusion and work his way back to find supporting facts

He started with a HYPOTHESIS, and established a method to test it. An intelligent critique of his specific methodology and control factors would require you to actually read the study. But knee-jerk reactions sure are more fun, aren't they?

When you've identified actual factors he hasn't controlled for that might explain the correlation, perhaps you can submit your own paper. I'll be right here holding my breath.

Re:Bad science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977923)

In addition, it was clearly done in order to support some stupid "Green" position.

Re:Bad science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977963)

Almost every post you make on any article appears to be without having read either the summary or the article, with this being no exception.

Not to say the study is correct, since there are so many influencing factors that control is exceedingly difficult, but your particular criticism is completely incorrect.

The study does not just pick places and correlate the number of trees in that area with health, it picks very particular places that were affected by an insect that killed the trees in the last 10 years. So the study is (hopefully) irrespective of all the human factors you mention (area wealth, density, etc) since those were not what caused the change in the number of trees.

It could be the case that the areas impacted the most by the insects had some other unknown correlation (perhaps increased pollution made the trees more susceptible to the insects etc), so I make no claim that the study is correct, merely that your criticism is flawed.

It is ironic that you are criticizing the scientist for making a basic mistake in method when it is exactly what you have done yourself by posting before reading or understanding the article.

Re:Bad science (2)

gr8_phk (621180) | about a year ago | (#43978069)

You have to control for human behavior in this, or your analysis is broken.

Not so much. The data was taken by county. Not sure how many were used but there are over 3000 in the US. The affected states contain people of diverse types and so do the unaffected states. They also included data from before and after the ash borer invasion. So unless there is some interesting human behavior that changed in those states over those years, it should not contribute to the conclusion (meaning it is ruled out).

RTFA Next Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978145)

Oh, and something to be aware of... richer neighborhoods have more trees than poorer neighborhoods, to the point that if you take satellite photography of a large metropolitan area, that alone can predict to a high degree of accuracy where the rich people live. Is this because they can afford to keep their environment cleaner as well?

You have to control for human behavior in this, or your analysis is broken.

Ah good point! But, well, from the fucking interview:

A team of researchers with the U.S. Forest Services looked at data from 1,296 counties, accounted for the influence of other variables -- things like income, race, and education -- and came to a simple conclusion: Having fewer trees around may be bad for your health. Their findings, published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, suggest an associative rather than a direct, causal link between the death of trees and the death of humans.

So ... you know ... either take the time to at least skim the article or go fuck yourself -- scientifically of course!

Re:Bad science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978169)

Wow, slashdot readers are terrible at detecting sarcasm/satire. You guys really weren't tipped off by the third paragraph?

For all you M. Night Shamylon haters (3, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43977047)

Suck it!

interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977049)

Did they control for the declining number of remaining bottles of '83 Cheval Blanc? Their numbers have also been dwindling steadily for the past ten years...

Re:interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977195)

They didn't, all of the test subjects were already dead due to the existence or '83 Cheval Blanc.

Re:interesting (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#43977469)

Yes, by using a localized phenomenon they controlled for the general decline of things such as that.

Forest bathing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977051)

Yippies.

Where can I reserve a charter flight to an exclusive Oregon forest bathing resort where my forest immersion adventure can renew my natural soul, prevent cancer, alleviate back pain, fight off depression and cure my allergies?

Well, what do you know (1)

eksith (2776419) | about a year ago | (#43977053)

M. Knight Shyamalan was on to something.

But seriously, it's no wonder places like The Stanley Hotel are still popular. After Stanley went to the area to recover from TB (with all that repertory jazz) it turned out to be such a good spot, he opened a hotel. It couldn't have been just the crisp air. Maybe we should have neighborhood tree planting campaigns alongside the neighborhood watch.

Re:Well, what do you know (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#43977375)

But seriously, it's no wonder places like The Stanley Hotel are still popular.

It also helps that the hotel was the basis for a very popular Stephen King book and movie, or that it sits in the middle of a beautiful national park.

Re:Well, what do you know (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#43977997)

It also helps that the hotel was the basis for a very popular Stephen King book and movie

The exterior images of which were shot on Mt Hood in Oregon. The actual Stanley hotel does not resemble anything in the movie much at all.

or that it sits in the middle of a beautiful national park.

...a park where tens of millions of trees have died in the last several years due to insects.

Re:Well, what do you know (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#43978255)

It also helps that the hotel was the basis for a very popular Stephen King book and movie

The exterior images of which were shot on Mt Hood in Oregon. The actual Stanley hotel does not resemble anything in the movie much at all.

Physically no, you are correct. However the story itself was based on that hotel. I don't know about you, but I'd rather stay in the hotel the one in The Shining was based on, not where they did the exterior shots. One of the stories is that Jim Carey couldn't even stay one whole night in the room that is supposed to be most active.

Re:Well, what do you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977661)

Maybe we should have neighborhood tree planting campaigns alongside the neighborhood watch

Good luck with the HOA. Someone will decide they do not like the 'look' of a particular kind of tree...

OMGWTFNATURE! (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#43977067)

Is this a surprise? We evolved in nature - with trees. Even now, we still do not know how much effect long term presence or absence of many trace compounds has. Whether it is something found in diet, or even in the air, emitted by plant transpiration. To think we do, and have it all under our thumb is simply hubris, and it will bite back.

Re:OMGWTFNATURE! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43977425)

I think it's simple. Trees are relaxing. Less stress makes your health better.

Did you ever notice that everything in Lord of the Rings that kills trees is evil?

JRR was on to something.

Re:OMGWTFNATURE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977433)

Most of our evolution also included a tail bone. What's your point?

Re:OMGWTFNATURE! (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year ago | (#43977565)

Plot lifespan of the human race over the last 1000 years against the estimated number of trees. Tell me what corralation you find.

Re:OMGWTFNATURE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977587)

Not to mention that an ape-derived species might, as an evolutionary hangover, simply be happier and less stressed to be somewhere which has lots of trees to run up than one where they're open to predators.

Hydrocarbons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977091)

Tree, and grass, hydrocarbons strengthen the immune system. Nasty synthetics are what damage our organs. Take a good whiff the next time you mow the lawn. That smell is a good thing at natural levels.

Re:Hydrocarbons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977221)

so does smelling your own farts.

Re:Hydrocarbons (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year ago | (#43977601)

Tree, and grass, hydrocarbons strengthen the immune system. Nasty synthetics are what damage our organs. Take a good whiff the next time you mow the lawn. That smell is a good thing at natural levels.

Plastics, oil, and methane are hydorcarbons. Do they strengthen my immune system?

household income (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about a year ago | (#43977115)

The magnitude of this effect was greater as infestation progressed and in counties with above-average median household income.

lol so nothing to do with trees. Wealthy people have cardiovascular disease and the problem has increased over time.

Haha (0)

Stumbles (602007) | about a year ago | (#43977159)

Pardon me while I pull something out a my ass.

Re:Haha (3, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#43977233)

Pardon me while I pull something out a my ass.

So I get my gerbil back?

Re:Haha (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43977445)

Pardon me while I pull something out a my ass.

So I get my gerbil back?

Lemmiwinks! So that's where you've been hiding!

Maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977197)

This may be the case, but there are also Arisols being sprayed in the air. large amounts of aluminum, barium, and Strontium, all of which have a very negative impact on plant life, and animal life. This could just as easily be the cause of the drop in health statistics.

Re:Maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977345)

Oh brilliant. Another chemtrails kookoo.

Re:Maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977499)

Oh, wonderful - another 'though-I-lack-any-sort-of-evidence-to-the-contrary-I'm-still-going-to-ridicule-you-for-believing-something-I-don't' religious fanatic.

Not that I feel one way or the other regarding chemtrails, but how can you not realize how stupid it makes you look to make such an accusation, considering your own evident lack of supporting citation?

Re:Maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978205)

This is what a gaggle of morons looks like.

Laughable (0)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about a year ago | (#43977223)

To repeat what others have said, correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. More people have moved to cities too, where the air is worse. And no one is able to "account for all variables".

Re:Laughable (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43977615)

It does however glance over at it while waggling it's eyebrows meaningfully.

Systematically? Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977291)

Insects do not systematically destroy anything. To claim that is to anthropomorphize insects. Last I heard, that's an evolutionary no-no.

This is a joke, right? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43977397)

It's not April 1, but perhaps they just overslept?

Stress Anecdote (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#43977417)

I have lived for 20 years in an established Midwestern suburban area (all major residential developments are 50-120 years old) where the Emerald Ash Borer has just begun to take its toll. Aside from the green ash (a frequently-planted street tree) we have blue, black and white ash, all native to the area in fair numbers. I walk a lot in my neighborhood. I know individual trees, and I notice when one is gone. I really noticed the one morning this spring when eight were gone in one day along my mile-long walk to the train. It's a lot like bereavement, which is something pretty well established to increase stress and disease.

Whether and how trees benefit us while alive is one thing, but since this study focused on areas infested with EAB it seems to be more about measuring the effects of losing a great number of trees in a short time.

Pirates and Global Warming (1)

sisyphu5 (2856699) | about a year ago | (#43977529)

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates [venganza.org] since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature [venganza.org] over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship [wikipedia.org] between pirates and global temperature.

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43977547)

"Well my basic hypothesis was that trees improve people's health."

There's no particular reason why that hypothesis would be true. And I say that as someone who enjoys walking around in the woods. In fact, for those with nasty allergies, trees can be positively bad for your health.

I'd want Mr Donovan to produce, at the very least, some sort of proposed mechanism behind "trees => health".

Re:Ask a silly question, get a silly answer (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977783)

Trees are linked with localized reduce wind, reduce pollutants, increase oxygen, increase biodiversity, and partially regulate local temperature year round. There is just as much to assume that his idea is correct as it isn't. Thus why testing is needed and why his idea is called a hypothesis.

I can't believe you are criticizing someone for doing science by stating that the premise hypothesis is not proven already. Do you always criticize things that are not tautologies?

Re:Ask a silly question, get a silly answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977789)

Why are you afraid of simple questions?
Also, you clearly do not understand how correlation sometimes may reveal causation before any mechanisms are hypothesized, or how science advances in general.

Re:Ask a silly question, get a silly answer (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about a year ago | (#43978215)

There's no particular reason why that hypothesis would be true. And I say that as someone who enjoys walking around in the woods. In fact, for those with nasty allergies, trees can be positively bad for your health.

Wow you're stupid. [google.com] Even if you don't want to sift through all those results and evaluate their validity, that widely held belief should be reason enough to start with that hypothesis.

Greenhouse gases! err, Cemetery gases! (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | about a year ago | (#43977639)

TFA has it exactly backwards -- The rise in tree deaths is clearly directly related to the rise in obesity in the study area, which has led to an increase in the average weight of persons newly buried in local cemeteries, which results in higher outgassing of carbon and other greenhouse gases from tombs and mausoleums. Humans are the cause of everything horrible on this planet, didn't you get the memo? Especially the SUV drivers, they're overplusdouble evil.

Minor Quible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43977777)

BTW, the word is Preventive, not Preventative.

Maybe the tree borers are responsible? (1)

Toad-san (64810) | about a year ago | (#43978165)

For all those cardiovascular and lower respiratory disease deaths?

So a proper, well-balanced experiment would be for us to destroy 100 million trees somewhere NOT infected with emerald tree borers, and see what happens to the human death rate then, eh?

Hey, it's tough on the trees, I know .. but in the end .. if it WERE all the fault of the emerald tree borer, humans might do more to protect the trees while protecting themselves! Seems, fair, right?

Man, ain't the scientific process wunnerful?

Science has progressed this far? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43978223)

"After accounting for all variables..."

Uhhh...

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