The great benefit of not having trees
My wife and I just had five tall, old trees cut down. One was dead, one was a nuisance, and three were just a little too close for comfort. We loved those trees, and cutting them down, even if they do provide wood for next winter’s fires, was a heartache.
Now one has a slightly better view of the lake, the gutters will not fill up from beechnuts from the mast, and my wife will have more sunshine in her gardens. But we will miss those trees and the cicadas that sang in them during the long summer twilights.
Where there are no trees
If you travel around the United States, and have the inclination, you can equip yourself with a series of books on roadside geology. I haven’t checked so I don’t know if there is one for every state, but there are many states represented for sure. In the west, where the climate is more arid and the rock strata are not covered, you can often witness the forces that shaped our planet from the comfort of your car.
Morocco also tends to lack biological diversity. Add up all the native species of trees and perhaps you may get a couple of dozen, far less than you would find in Western Europe or the Eastern United States.
That said, Morocco still has some great forests, notably the cork oak forests of Mamora and the Cedars of the Middle Atlas, though both are under pressure and threatened by climate change, overgrazing, and charcoal manufacture.
Flock in cedar forest near Ifrane. The forest was populated by boars and monkeys.
When I was visited by three volunteers from Libya, just before the revolution that launched Gaddafi’s career, I took them in the Willys jeep up to the cedar forests southwest of Sefrou. They were impressed by the karst lakes and the dense, tall Atlas cedars. It had been some time since they had even seen a tree.
I can’t help thinking of them when I watch some English period drama that frames the earl, walking with his old dog, past the huge Atlas cedars adorning his estate. I actually tried planting one a few years in my backyard, as I live on the edge of a climate zone that supposedly permits their growth. Unfortunately, after a few good years, it succumbed to a particularly bitter winter. Perhaps I’ll try again, but I will never have ones like the Earl of Grantham or those surrounding the châteaux of France. An old friend was fortunate enough to purchase some hilltop property above Albi, and the French government subsidized its reforestation with thousands of Atlas Cedars!
The rocks in Morocco contain more than a record of the physical forces that have shaped our planet.
From the skeletons of giant dinosaurs to earliest evidence of modern man, Morocco has been a great place for paleontologists and archeologists in recent years, and it is virtually certain that there will be new discoveries that expand our knowledge of the history of the world.
If you drive from Sefrou, through Ahermoumou, to the western slopes of Jbel Bouiblane, look in the stream beds that the road crosses, and, in the Cretaceous rocks, you may find large and beautifully preserved ammonite fossils. The ammonites perished in the last great extinction, when a Manhattan-sized rock struck what is now the Yucatán and left the Chicxulub crater. These long gone creatures, in their beautifully coiled shells, also may remind us that a great extinction is taking place today, caused not by an asteroid, but by ourselves.
Darwin’s Dilemma Solved
Proponents of creationism have recently pushed their point of view by claiming that “Darwin’s dilemma” demonstrates that God had His hand in the “Cambrian explosion.” The argument conflates two somewhat different facts. Darwin found it difficult to reconcile the period of rapid diversification that took place in the early Cambrian, between 541 and roughly 518 million years ago, with the short time in which it took place. Darwin was still operating in a uniformitarian mindset of course. And he knew nothing about modern genetics which helped explain the process of evolution. This has prompted the latest challenge by intelligent design promoters, namely, that diversification could not possibly happen fast enough for all modern animal phyla to develop. God must had intervened.
Now, this explanation has been permanently discredited. A.J. Bateman and a team of scientists at the University of Texas, Austin, have conclusively proven that God was on vacation during the geological time period in question, and simply left everything up to nature. “We got the idea from the Old Testament. Though God is everywhere and all powerful, He may not always be working,” said Bateman in an exclusive interview last Friday. “We knew from Genesis that God rested after creating the world, so we simply searched for vacation rentals over the last 690 million years,” said Bateman’s graduate assistant, Samuel Clemens, who also noted that a day in God’s eyes might be millions of year in ours.