My Favorite Nature Words: Carboniferous

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I just like imagining huge piles of dead trees all over the place, partly because we’ll never see that again on that scale, and partly because when giving park tours I’ve literally had someone ask me on more than one occasion, “Why don’t you clean up all these unsightly dead trees?” I want to transport these people back 350 million years ago to where there were so many dead trees that the weight of the more recently deceased just kept pushing the older ones into the ground, and the climate cooled considerably due to all the carbon trapped in the dead wood, and then I want to tell them “See? We don’t have as many dead trees compared to this!” And then expound upon the importance of snags and nurse logs to today’s forests, and why the bacteria and fungi and other tiny beings that break down dead wood are so important, and how silly it would be to remove the dead trees like sweeping the dead leaves off the forest floor.

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