Spring morning in West Lake Hills, Texas


I spend long hours in front of my computer screen most days, so in the afternoons I like to work on our property here in West Lake Hills. Joyce and I have plenty of work to do, and enjoy planting a variety of shrubs and trees and hedges. It’s good exercise, and often just plain hard work.


In the freakish ice storm in February of this year in Texas, and the equally scary windstorm that swept through a small part of West Lake Hills, in May, we lost half a dozen palm trees that we had planted a couple of decades earlier. I vowed that I would replace them because I love the way they look, and because until recent years, the heat of central Texas along with the our periodic draughts accommodated palms quite nicely.


However, a few days ago I read this article on CNN: Florida is ditching palm trees to fight the climate crisis. It seems that palms are of little benefit in removing CO2 from the atmosphere compared to most other trees. Here’s an illustration of how the numbers stack up for three kinds of trees.



When you consider that the “standard passenger vehicle” emits about 10,000 (4.6 metric tons) of CO2 EVERY YEAR, the benefits from the entire lifetime of even the most beneficial tree is cancelled out every year by a single vehicle. This is lousy news! Today atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any point in the past 800,000 years. The last time carbon dioxide concentration was this high was more than 3 million years ago!!


So, a sad goodbye to my beloved palms. In the future any new trees we plant will be chosen to fight climate change. But being able to adapt to change, especially when it benefits the greater good, is one of the best attributes of human nature. And so we will.