Houseplants are nice to have around, and some people just seem to have a knack for them. If you're one of those who don't or have never bothered to try, you've still probably noticed how pleasurable it is and how good you feel when you visit a friend in a home filled with plants.
It's not your imagination. Houseplants actually are good for your health.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
For a start, there's a theory called the "biophilia hypothesis," first posited by biologist/naturalist Edward O. Wilson in the ’80s. It suggests that since the human race grew up close to nature, using plants for food, shelter and fuel, we feel an innate pull toward nature. That affinity has been starved since people began moving to cities in large numbers at the start of industrial revolution in the early 19th century and began living in multi-unit buildings or small, crowded-together homes without land.
Whether it's an actual evolutionary need or not, indoor plants expand the scope of our four walls and make us feel closer to nature, offering a sense of relaxation and peace that many people have found reduces stress and improves their ability to sleep. And stress reduction is healing. It impacts blood pressure and the immune system and acts as a component in fighting off illnesses like colds and flu.
There's an even more concrete benefit to having plants in your home: there are many kinds that actually remove toxins from the environment and purify the air. A NASA study in the late ’80s that looked at ways to clean air in space stations suggested the value of common house plants in absorbing substances such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia. These are some of the same toxins found near oil and gas drilling and fracking sites! In your home, they can come from such sources as paint, cleaning materials, carpets, insulation and adhesives, creating dust that can exacerbate health conditions, especially allergies and respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Among the plants the NASA study tested were some of the most common houseplants including philodendron, spider plants, rubber tree, Boston fern and English ivy. And when you get those chrysanthemums to plant in your garden for some fall color, get some extra ones to bring indoors; they filter all of the substances listed above. The study suggested having one plant per 100 feet of living space.
Plants also remove carbon dioxide from the air. Since carbon dioxide can cause drowsiness and headaches, that can make you feel more alert and energetic.
Finally, plants act as natural humidifiers. That humid indoor jungle raises the moisture level in your home to help to fight dry, cracked skin in the winter, even while reminding you of the warmer weather that's just around the corner.
A big caveat: many of these houseplants, including English ivy, spider plants and philodendron are toxic to pets, so check first and make sure your living room garden is pet-safe.
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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