Is St. Patrick’s Day killing the trees?
London, Ontario – New research released today in the journal Understandings in Ecosystem Health suggests that St. Patrick’s Day may be harming the environment.
Every March 17th, revellers around the world celebrate St Patty’s day by wearing green clothing, and drinking green beer. The day is dedicated to the Irish Saint Patrick, who lived in the early 5th century.
But recent findings show that along with the cheer, comes a wealth of environmental devastation.
“Trees have evolved over millions of years to optimally use green light in photosynthesis,” said Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources Hans Friedmann.
St. Patrick’s day celebrants – decked head-to-toe in green – are stealing the green light the trees need to survive, he said.
Light provides the energy supply trees use to produce the oxygen we, and all other animals, need to breathe.
Steve Miller, the lead author of the study and a specialist in the Boreal forest ecosystems from The University of Nippissing, thinks trees feel the loss of their favourite wavelength.
“Historically, coniferous and deciduous species around the region have been observed with a pungent solution at their base on the day following St. Patrick’s day,” said Miller.
The source of the secretion is unknown, but Miller said it had a high concentration of inorganic salts and various organic compounds.
Miller said the relationship was more common in heavily travelled urban areas – particularly where large crowds gathered at night to celebrate their Irish heritage.
The higher density of green-clothes wearers would lead to less green light available to the trees, leading to more overall damage.
“It’s almost as if the trees are literally crying themselves to sleep,” said Miller.