Symbols of Evolution

There are some old methods of measuring time, separate from standard clocks, that fascinate me. However, one of them that I had not thought about – and I still don’t know why – was tree rings and dendrochronology. Dendrochronology is the study of tree dating and the growth of rings in trees to study how old they are. Dendrochronologists, according to the University of Arizona, use tree rings to answer questions about the natural world and the place of humans in its functioning. However, this seemingly simple study can tell us a lot more about the natural world than we may have been able to previously imagine.

Around us, every day, we can see symbols of the world’s evolution. Many of these are obvious; smartphones, electric cars, Apple Watches, televisions, etc. However, another clear symbol of evolution, or lack thereof, is trees, which have been around for as long as humans have existed. Dendrochronology can play a significant role in studying this evolution because trees are a symbol of how far we have come. Dendrochronology is also an interesting study because it can tell us things about the environment, like how trees were weathered over time and how external changes in climate have affected the trees’ overall health. With the environment gradually warming over the last 200 years – which also serves as a prescient indicator of time – trees can serve as a symbol of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

In summation, trees can give us a sense of where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going. An accurate understanding of our past is so important because if we do not understand our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Trees are such an accurate, unfailing representation of our history. It is also fascinating to study these natural phenomena of the universe, like trees, because we can also gain an appreciation for how much different our understanding of time would have been in a different era. If we were born in the 1800s, for example, how much slower would our lives have been? And how much different would we have lived our lives? These are all questions that must be considered, but one of the places we can look to for the answers, believe it or not, is a tree.