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The Lonely Tree of Ténéré

Article #248 • Written by Marisa Brook

▼ Scroll to Continue ▼

Because trees are so abundant, it is rare for a single one to become well-known. Some trees become distinguished due to their historical significance. The Bodhi Tree in India, for example, is where Buddha is thought to have gained enlightenment; and the Liberty Tree in 18th-century Boston was a gathering place for American colonists who objected to British rule.

A few trees are also worthy of note due to being record-holders. The state of California is home to several such trees: the tallest one known, a 155.5 meter redwood called Hyperion; the largest, the 1,450 cubic meter giant sequoia named General Sherman; and the oldest, a 4,800-year-old bristlecone pine known as Methuselah. It's difficult to be certain of which individual tree is the most remote. For several decades that distinction belonged to the Tree of Ténéré, an acacia tree standing alone in the vast, hostile expanse of the Sahara Desert. However, in 1973 this tree met an exceedingly improbable end.

Also referred to by the French 'arbre du Ténéré', millennia ago the tree was part of a sizable forest. Gradually, climate change reduced the area to a desert as the trees perished. The Ténéré region became one of the most inhospitable areas, with little vegetation and an average annual rainfall of only 2.5 cm. Water ended up being scarce even underground. By sometime around the early 20th century, a small group of the thorned, yellow-flowered acacias were all that remained of the trees of the Ténéré. Over time, all but one died, leaving it as the only surviving tree in a 400 kilometer radius.

As a result, the three-meter-tall tree was one of the few interruptions in the landscape of sand. Visible from a considerable distance, it became a landmark for desert travelers. Its ability to survive on an unforgiving patch of sand was a mystery at first, but passers-by reasoned that there must be a water source. During the winter of 1938-1939, the French military coordinated the digging of a nearby well to increase the utility of the site. Workers discovered that the tree's root system was drawing water from a source 35 meters underground. Meanwhile, sometime during or after the construction of the well, a truck at the site backed into the tree and broke off one of its main branches. The tree managed to survive the impact, though its previously distinct 'Y' shape was lost.

In the decades that followed, caravans shipping grain, salt, and dates across the Sahara often stopped to take water from this well. The tree was so essential to locals' navigation of the large, barren desert that damaging it was inconceivable. As Michel Lesourd of the Central Service of Saharan Affairs wrote after seeing the tree in 1939, "[t]he Acacia has become a living lighthouse." It appeared on large-scale maps of the desert as one of the sole reference points.

The metal sculpture that replaced the Tree of Ténéré.
The metal sculpture that replaced the Tree of Ténéré.

By the 1970s many of the passing caravans were trucks rather than camels. In 1973, one such truck was being driven by a Libyan - allegedly drunk - and despite the flat, wide-open expanse he lost control of his vehicle. The truck veered off the road and slammed into the only tree in the entire region. This second impact with an automobile was more than the solitary Tree of Ténéré could bear, and it snapped from its trunk. It was estimated to have been 300 years old.

In November of that year the remains of the legendary tree were retrieved and transported by another truck to the Niger National Museum in the capital of Niamey, where it still resides today. At the Tree of Ténéré's original location, an anonymous artist constructed a metal monument made up of recycled pipes, fuel barrels and discarded auto parts. Thus the location still stands as a landmark - at least until the next drunken truck driver comes by.

Article written by Marisa Brook, published on 17 January 2007. Marisa lives in Toronto, Canada. She collects postcards, fridge magnets, lapel pins, interesting rocks, and linguistics degrees.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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101 Comments
jreiter
Posted 17 January 2007 at 08:44 am

How sad that we humans are soooo careless. DI!


Brigs
Posted 17 January 2007 at 08:47 am

What a douche.


gsd750
Posted 17 January 2007 at 08:48 am

I think that's called 'target fixation'


JeffWhitledge
Posted 17 January 2007 at 09:13 am

...an acacia tree standing alone in the vast, hostile expanse of the Sahara Desert. However, in 1973 this tree met an exceedingly improbable end.

A forest fire, perhaps?


Ironclaw
Posted 17 January 2007 at 09:14 am

Murphy's law anyone?

Maybe a source for a new DI article
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy's_law


Ironclaw
Posted 17 January 2007 at 09:15 am

JeffWhitledge said: "A forest fire, perhaps?"

I was thinking a flood..


FireDude
Posted 17 January 2007 at 10:25 am

JeffWhitledge said: "A forest fire, perhaps?"

Ironclaw said: "I was thinking a flood.."

I'd have to go with termites. Though overwatering(flood) is pretty good, too.


Merciless
Posted 17 January 2007 at 10:30 am

Dumb ass drunk driver. Nothing better to do than get drunk in the desert and hit an old tree.

I believe it used to be called the sahara forest until the logging industry got ahold of it. :)

Another Damn Interesting article.


RichVR
Posted 17 January 2007 at 10:43 am

Now I am sad...


ConcernedCitizen
Posted 17 January 2007 at 11:06 am

@Merciless: It was probably never called the Sahara Forest, since the word "sahara" is the Arabic word for "desert".


ChinnoDog
Posted 17 January 2007 at 11:14 am

Brigs said: "What a douche."

Agreed. The Libyan's dismantled truck should be the monument.


zDom
Posted 17 January 2007 at 11:21 am

Sad story. Somebody should have beaten BOTH those drivers with limbs from the landmark they destroyed.


planetjk
Posted 17 January 2007 at 11:45 am

JeffWhitledge: Ahahaha. Somebody needs to tell Smokey, I bet it was a campfire that started the whole thing.


jbigdog
Posted 17 January 2007 at 01:13 pm

I never thought I'd feel this sorry for a tree.


sioleabha
Posted 17 January 2007 at 01:19 pm

Ditto jbigdog.

I don't understand, though. If the first truck accident in the 30s caused the tree to be less "Y" shaped, why does it still look "Y" shaped in that photo from the 70s?


Merciless
Posted 17 January 2007 at 01:21 pm

@ConcernedCitizen: I'm sure that's what it means now, but perhaps they changed the meaning. Just wait until the logging industry finds the "amazon" desert. Haha. Only joking.

I'm with zDom. They could mount their two vehicles on a telephone pole in the shape of a "Y". Couldn't be any worse than the scrap metal piece of junk out there now.


Stead311
Posted 17 January 2007 at 02:31 pm

As interesting as the article is, I am just not THAT sad that the tree is gone. I mean... not to sound cynical.. but its a tree.... a TREE... i mean, it didnt even produce any fruit. That makes it somewhat lame. If it produced fruit i bet it would sell for $100.000's of bucks. Anyhow, i can appreciate why someone would want to keep a tree like this so don't think I am blind to it's beauty; but see where i am coming from... a tree in the middle of the desert.. that grew a delicious and mysterious DESERT FRUIT... something like nutter butters or something.


Alan Bellows
Posted 17 January 2007 at 02:31 pm

sioleabha said: "I don't understand, though. If the first truck accident in the 30s caused the tree to be less "Y" shaped, why does it still look "Y" shaped in that photo from the 70s?"

Here's a (poor-quality) photo of how it looked before the first accident.


Kevin
Posted 17 January 2007 at 02:37 pm

That's hilarious... a drunk driver hitting the ONLY tree in the entire desert. What an idiot.


Michael Anissimov
Posted 17 January 2007 at 02:55 pm

Let's resurrect the tree... with SCIENCE!


Silverhill
Posted 17 January 2007 at 03:19 pm

Stead311 said: "a TREE… i mean, it didnt even produce any fruit. That makes it somewhat lame."

As "lame" as Hyperion or General Sherman or Methuselah, then, eh? (They don't produce [human-edible] fruit either.)

A tree does not have to produce something tangible to be interesting to (some) humans--it need only have grandeur, say; or beauty, or uniqueness.


azngeek714
Posted 17 January 2007 at 03:26 pm

You know how sharks fight in the womb? Do you think this tree drained almost all the water in order to grow its roots so big?


Silverhill
Posted 17 January 2007 at 03:33 pm

Marisa, that statement of Hyperion's height needs revising--155.5 m = 510.2 ft, not the 378.1 ft mentioned in this article.

Tallest living tree: Hyperion (coast redwood), 378.1 feet, Redwood National Park

Tallest recorded tree: Unnamed eucalyptus, 500-plus feet, recorded in 1872 in Australia

Fascinating article about the Ténéré tree; thanks!


Stead311
Posted 17 January 2007 at 04:42 pm

Silverhill said: "As "lame" as Hyperion or General Sherman or Methuselah, then, eh? (They don't produce [human-edible] fruit either.)

A tree does not have to produce something tangible to be interesting to (some) humans–it need only have grandeur, say; or beauty, or uniqueness."

Some humans? You mean liberals... i don't find awe in an every day oak tree... that is lame and makes you lame.. or gothic... wouldnt you rather have a tree that produced a delicious snicker bar?


agooga
Posted 17 January 2007 at 04:48 pm

Reminds me of that bit of historical auto trivia that had the only two cars in the state crash into each other at a crossroads.


1c3d0g
Posted 17 January 2007 at 04:50 pm

zDom: well fucking said.


JollyJumjuck
Posted 17 January 2007 at 05:19 pm

JeffWhitledge said: "A forest fire, perhaps?"

Ironclaw said: "I was thinking a flood.."

FireDude said: "I'd have to go with termites. Though overwatering(flood) is pretty good, too."

Global warming. It *has* to be the fault of humans somehow...


DInterested
Posted 17 January 2007 at 06:10 pm

What was Kadafi up to 1973?


another viewpoint
Posted 17 January 2007 at 06:33 pm

...Okay, I'll go out on a limb here...
1) nobody had enough sense to install barriers around this "landmark" to protect it?
2) so where were all the treehuggers when the tree needed them?
3) where was the freakin' Geico gecko when all this was going down?


jaydawg53
Posted 17 January 2007 at 06:34 pm

azngeek714 said: "You know how sharks fight in the womb? Do you think this tree drained almost all the water in order to grow its roots so big?"

Did you watch that new show "Dirt" last night? I had never heard about sharks fighting in the womb until they showed it last night. Then, i see it mentioned the next day in this forum; wierd...

Oh, and as fro hitting a tree in the middle of the desert.... "DOH!!!!!"


junebee
Posted 17 January 2007 at 06:43 pm

"…Okay, I'll go out on a limb here…"...Tee hee!


PJV
Posted 17 January 2007 at 07:08 pm

This is a remarkable example of the destructive nature of human beings. We are doing the exact same thing with the rest of the planet, but at a larger scale. Immediately after we discovered a source of benefit nearby (water), the tree was doomed to disappear; either by sheer human stupidity or because of our inherent desire for destruction. People that live comfortably in cities do not realize how fast and how dangerously we are approaching full environmental chaos; moreover, we do not give a damn....and by the way, this is a damn interesting article.


frenchsnake
Posted 17 January 2007 at 07:39 pm

Ironclaw said: "Murphy's law anyone?

Maybe a source for a new DI article

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy's_law"

Note that DI already has something on Murphy's Law.

Stead311 said: "Some humans? You mean liberals… i don't find awe in an every day oak tree… that is lame and makes you lame.. or gothic… wouldnt you rather have a tree that produced a delicious snicker bar?"

Stead311, it should be obvious how important this tree was for the people who lived there, and especially for those who have to cross the desert. And wouldn't it be interesting if the symbol of the United States was some piece of natural beauty instead of a man-made object?


examancer
Posted 17 January 2007 at 08:11 pm

frenchsnake said: "Note that DI already has something on Murphy's Law.

And wouldn't it be interesting if the symbol of the United States was some piece of natural beauty instead of a man-made object?"

Last a checked, the American Eagle is a piece of natural beauty and the most recognizable "symbol" (in the form of a seal) of the United States, next to the flag.


Jeremy
Posted 17 January 2007 at 08:22 pm

examancer said: "Last a checked, the American Eagle is a piece of natural beauty and the most recognizable "symbol" (in the form of a seal) of the United States, next to the flag."

Last I checked it was called the bald eagle, not the American eagle. And I'm willing to bet more people would associate a Coca-Cola bottle with the USA than any bird.


another viewpoint
Posted 17 January 2007 at 08:54 pm

...yes, isn't it wonderful that the United States founding fathers selected a "bird of prey" to represent a country that is supposed to be a democratic, benevolent, peace-loving nation. While the eagle may represent strength, independence and survival, it is also a vicious killer so that it can sustain itself. It bears the tools it needs for survival which include a pointed beak and sharp talons. So much for peace, justice and the American way.

As noted above though, we are perhaps more known for other "American" symbols after Coca Cola which include (to name a few): McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donut and least we forget...the almighty green back dollar. Ah yes, good ole capitalism...with each and every man for himself.


Dr. Evil
Posted 17 January 2007 at 11:42 pm

FireDude said: "I'd have to go with termites. Though overwatering(flood) is pretty good, too."

i was thinking that a voracious army of superintelligent armadillos on the rampage after discovering an interesting shaped piece of toast, became allies with the aliens that stole my mother-in-law ( woohoo!!!) and obliterated the forest using a unoriginal but working model of a "death star"


Dr. Evil
Posted 17 January 2007 at 11:43 pm

:D


vonmeth
Posted 17 January 2007 at 11:54 pm

jaydawg53 said: "Did you watch that new show "Dirt" last night? I had never heard about sharks fighting in the womb until they showed it last night. Then, i see it mentioned the next day in this forum; wierd…


Oh, and as fro hitting a tree in the middle of the desert…. "DOH!!!!!""

You would probably find this DI then

http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=417


vonmeth
Posted 17 January 2007 at 11:58 pm

Oh, and I will say, you would not believe how many times I have seen someone respond with that link because someone says, "Wow ... I just heard about this the other day .. weird"


Man
Posted 18 January 2007 at 12:18 am

I hate to pick this nit but i really wanted to before another nit picker, picks it.

In the article it says "one of the sole reference points".

There can only be ONE sole reference point.

My apologies Marisa but I had to, other than that very nice article. Its amazing that a boring old tree became such an important reference point.


Silverhill
Posted 18 January 2007 at 12:58 am

Stead311 said: "Some humans? You mean liberals…"

No, I mean aesthetes (who are not restricted to being "liberals"), as well as those who can have respect for the tenacity of life in general (and some examples in particular).

i don't find awe in an every day oak tree…

Nor do I--not for just any old tree--but that's not what I said or implied, either.

that is lame and makes you lame.. or gothic…

The Goths (the real Goths, that is) certainly had the ability to appreciate beauty, though not much of their work survives; go look 'em up.

If by "Gothic" you mean the artistic style developed in medieval times, well, there was a great deal of beauty evoked there; there was definitely a well-developed aesthetic sense. See the Wikipedia entry for "Gothic art".

If you mean the nihilistic, gloomy folk who have borrowed the name "Goth", then you're making even less sense. Being able to appreciate natural beauty (or just unusualness) does not predispose one to dark or death-oriented thoughts.


Krull
Posted 18 January 2007 at 03:00 am

The only tree - the only object at all even - in a 400km radius and he goes and hits it.

PJV said: "This is a remarkable example of the destructive nature of human beings. We are doing the exact same thing with the rest of the planet, but at a larger scale. Immediately after we discovered a source of benefit nearby (water), the tree was doomed to disappear; either by sheer human stupidity or because of our inherent desire for destruction. People that live comfortably in cities do not realize how fast and how dangerously we are approaching full environmental chaos; moreover, we do not give a damn….and by the way, this is a damn interesting article."

So true. Why do humans have to go and destroy everything. There's gonna be nothing left of our planet soon.

lmao @ azngeek714 and the shark theory!

And finally, excellent article, thumbs up.


Lennes
Posted 18 January 2007 at 05:01 am

Krull said: So true. Why do humans have to go and destroy everything. There's gonna be nothing left of our planet soon.

Eh. We're a parasite. We'll consume all our natural resources, send the planet to hell, have a handful survive through a completely desolate ice-age, then re-evolve as trees while a new and far more intelligent lifeform emerges and then eventually does the same thing. I think it's happened before.


erratic
Posted 18 January 2007 at 06:25 am


So true. Why do humans have to go and destroy everything."

There's...........too...........many..........of..........us.

(And we refuse to even talk about it.)


FireDude
Posted 18 January 2007 at 07:47 am

JollyJumjuck said: "Global warming. It *has* to be the fault of humans somehow…"

But how did the termites get there? In the back of the truck driven by the drunk. He really had it out for that tree.

Dr. Evil said: "i was thinking that a voracious army of superintelligent armadillos on the rampage after discovering an interesting shaped piece of toast, became allies with the aliens that stole my mother-in-law ( woohoo!!!) and obliterated the forest using a unoriginal but working model of a "death star""

That's just silly and completely impossible, which makes you technically correct. The best kind of correct.


midnight
Posted 18 January 2007 at 07:51 am

On that American symbol comment about the Eagle being a bad idea:
Benjamin Franklin wanted the Turkey to be the bird symbol.
The TURKEY!!!

I can't believe that the idiot that killed the tree wasn't strung up.


HellSquirt
Posted 18 January 2007 at 07:59 am

Agreed. The Libyan's dismantled truck should be the monument."

Maybe the dismantled Libyan should be the monument.


Cynthia Wood
Posted 18 January 2007 at 09:21 am

midnight - wild turkeys are quite a different bird than the domesticated ones, which are bred for maximum meat and stupidity (bright prey animals are not a bonus to the predators). Wild turkeys are bright, canny birds, notoriously difficult to hunt, very protective of their young, and generally a pretty good choice for a bird role-model.

Eagles, on the other hand, are very majestic scavenging bullies. They would sooner steal a fish from an osprey than bother to hunt one themselves - even though they are perfectly capable hunters. Nothing against them as birds - they do as they are born to do, but I think choosing them as a national symbol was probably done either in ignorance, or in subtle irony.


FireDude
Posted 18 January 2007 at 10:23 am

Cynthia Wood said: "Nothing against them as birds - they do as they are born to do, but I think choosing them as a national symbol was probably done either in ignorance, or in subtle irony."

The bald eagle was John Adams' choice (Franklin wanted the turkey, Jefferson wanted the dove). Based on what I have heard and read about him, I sincerely doubt it was irony. The man wouldn't know humor if it hit him with a drunken Libyan.


sh0cktopus
Posted 18 January 2007 at 10:44 am

This article reminds me of another sad story of a tree. A bristlecone pine on Wheeler Peak named Prometheus was cut down with a chainsaw in 1964 to measure its age, because the researcher was having trouble obtaining core samples. It turned out to be the oldest tree ever known to have existed, beating Methuselah by about 200 years (over 5,000 years old!). This was actually approved by the U.S. Forest Service.

Further info on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_%28tree%29


mark12b
Posted 18 January 2007 at 10:54 am

The article says

millennia ago the tree was part of a sizable forest

but it also says

It was estimated to have been 300 years old.

So obviously this particular tree wasn't part of the forest that was there thousands of years ago. But the interesting thing is that 300 years ago there must have been some kind of forest or oasis in that area. What will your region look like in 300 years?


Mike I
Posted 18 January 2007 at 11:03 am

For anyone wondering if advanced extraterrestrial civilizations eventually off themselves due to the ability to combine various aspects of society (such as alcohol, a truck, and sheer stupidity), here's a peachy example of it, Earth style. If there's a way to spoil and destroy, Earthings will find it. I hate to see trees come down. As living witnesses of Time, they deserve to not be attacked by forces beyond their ability to cope as well as idiots who simply want better satellite reception. Yet, here is a tree, not the oldest by a long shot, but a survivor in a situation where the only action it couyld take was to find water in a desolate area...and it did, only to be run down by a moron with a bottle and a car. Doomed, all of us!


TimWhit
Posted 18 January 2007 at 11:11 am

Enter your reply text here.

Here is a link to another Great Tree:

http://hartford.about.com/cs/cthistory/a/aacharteroak.htma


Brigs
Posted 18 January 2007 at 11:44 am

Stead311 said: "Some humans? You mean liberals… i don't find awe in an every day oak tree… that is lame and makes you lame.. or gothic… wouldnt you rather have a tree that produced a delicious snicker bar?"

You don't have to be a liberal to appreciate a living, growing thing in the middle of nothingness. It would be the same as finding an enlightened thought in the nothingness of your mind.


Misfit
Posted 18 January 2007 at 01:22 pm

FireDude said: "...technically correct. The best kind of correct."

Futurama rocks!

Other than that, might I say... UGH!

Let me just say I think it's crazy that our comments on an article about the demise of a natural monument in the middle of the Sahara Desert, have turned to bashing the U.S. for our choice of BIRD??!?

OH, give me a BREAK.

I for one will remain interested in just what type of beer the Libyan was drinking at the time.


rev.felix
Posted 18 January 2007 at 01:46 pm

Stead311 said: "... it would sell for $100.000's of bucks..."

Sorry to nitpick, but $100.000's of bucks is redundant. It means hundreds of dollars of bucks.


telkontar
Posted 18 January 2007 at 03:34 pm

At least there is an adequate man-made substitute for this tree.

Note the eagle on a dollar bill: it is holding arrows in the left talons and olive branches in the right talons. The eagle is looking right. (The Latin phrases are also magnificent.) The eagle may scavenge and rob, but it can also look out for itself.

Maybe if we pushed the continents back together, we could have the Sahara Forest back.


Bewildered
Posted 18 January 2007 at 06:15 pm

hahaha, poor tree! What a funny and D.I. article... The only thing funnier is the list of comments! There should be a D.I. article on how many comments down it takes before someone starts waving a U.S. flag... (59th hahaha)


trillian
Posted 18 January 2007 at 06:57 pm

And wouldn't it be interesting if the symbol of the United States was some piece of natural beauty instead of a man-made object?

I'm still curious as to what frenchsnake was saying he thinks the American national symbol is.

examancer said: "Last a checked, the American Eagle is a piece of natural beauty and the most recognizable "symbol" (in the form of a seal) of the United States, next to the flag."

Jeremy said: "Last I checked it was called the bald eagle, not the American eagle. And I'm willing to bet more people would associate a Coca-Cola bottle with the USA than any bird."

According to Wikipedia, you're both kinda right.


trillian
Posted 18 January 2007 at 07:00 pm

What will your region look like in 300 years?

According to Al Gore, it'll be underwater long before that.

(sorry for the double-posting)


TowerTone
Posted 18 January 2007 at 07:18 pm

If a tree falls in the desert, does it make a sound like a drunk Libyan saying"shit!"?

All you crybaby tree huggers ashamed of man-there would be less energy used, more food, less waste and pollution if y'all would just KILL YOURSELVES!!!


Burning
Posted 18 January 2007 at 08:19 pm

JeffWhitledge said: "A forest fire, perhaps?"

That was the funniest thing I heard/read all week!


anakin876
Posted 18 January 2007 at 08:39 pm

PJV said: "This is a remarkable example of the destructive nature of human beings. We are doing the exact same thing with the rest of the planet, but at a larger scale. Immediately after we discovered a source of benefit nearby (water), the tree was doomed to disappear; either by sheer human stupidity or because of our inherent desire for destruction. "

That's ridiculous. The first time something happened to the tree it was an accident. The second time a drunken idiot hit the tree. Are you saying it is human nature to be a drunken idiot? I'll give you stupidity - people in general can be quite dumb, but don't tell me everyone is doomed to be a drunken idiot.


glowbug0015
Posted 18 January 2007 at 10:14 pm

TowerTone said: "If a tree falls in the desert, does it make a sound like a drunk Libyan saying"shit!"?

All you crybaby tree huggers ashamed of man-there would be less energy used, more food, less waste and pollution if y'all would just KILL YOURSELVES!!!"

Except that many of us are here to teach others how to use less energy... we [sometimes] succeed at educating others, or maybe even create a community/national/global conscience about consumption...

For instance, while we've been told for a while now that if we don't stop overfishing, there won't be enough fish left to repopulate themselves, for some reason only a few countries know that... 2/3 of the world don't even have access to a media network that would tell them that. With only 1/3 of the world participating in efforts to curb our fish consumption or at least to attempt to find ways to repopulate the oceans faster, we are still hurling headlong towards LOSING whole species of fish. Without the few of us who spread the news, who are already not consuming fish that are caught in an unsustainable fashion, the future would hit us even faster.

Or what you are saying, in a very capitalist way, is that if you are actually making an effort to not be a burden on our resources, you should be dead! Yeah, that'll really help.


ExperimentNo6
Posted 18 January 2007 at 10:54 pm

I think it's kind of ironic that there's a wall around the sculpture but there wasn't one around the actual tree.


zerobubble
Posted 19 January 2007 at 06:16 am

Did anyone here this tree fall?


cutterjohn
Posted 19 January 2007 at 10:06 am

DI as usual. However, it was simply a tree. I dont know about you guys, but ive chopped my fair share of wood, so a solitary tree isnt going to get much of a rise out of me. Really, it wasnt the tree that was special, but its location. It was only important as a landmark. Had it been a big boulder the same significance would have applied. I'll grant that it was pretty cool that it had survived alone in the middle of the desert, but.. its a tree.

Guess im just not much of a romantic.


AntEconomist
Posted 19 January 2007 at 10:10 am

Maybe the Earth is warming (in a statistical sense). However, if you look at historical data, the warming is neither extreme nor unexpected. The first link below shows global temperatures over the past 100+ years -- you'll see a remarkable increase. It also shows global temperatures over the past 400,000 years -- you'll see that what we're experience appears to be part of a natural cycle. FWIW, the second link shows a plot of man-made CO2 against global temperatures -- the evidence for a link is not overly compelling.

http://www.business.duq.edu/faculty/davies/research/globalwarming2.ppt

http://www.business.duq.edu/faculty/davies/research/globalwarming1.ppt


another viewpoint
Posted 19 January 2007 at 02:11 pm

...just remember, it's difficult to fly with eagles...when you work with turkeys!

But if you're still looking for a symbolic bird...how about a red-headed, double-breasted, mattress-thrasher?


PJV
Posted 19 January 2007 at 07:06 pm

AntEconomist,

I saw your graphs. Apart from the very confusing labeling of the axes, I notice a fundamental flaw on your reasoning: If what you mean with "deviations above and below the average" is an index of dispersion such as the standard deviation, then your figures are meaningless. What you need is a graph that depicts either a one to one relationship of the actual observations (the values of each variable) or one that depicts the correlation between central tendency estimates such as the mean between the two variables for each year or time period. You do not get muchfrom graphing the correlation between dispersion of temperatures and time, if you are lacking the very important central tendency parameter. Your graphs could be useful in terms of tests of homoscedasticity but are useless to undestand global warming.

Apart from that, I am sure Europeans will be really happy to know that the environmental chaos they are living these days in to related to global warming. C'mon people lets get real, global warming is a fact, it could be either a natural process or entirely caused by our "destructive nature", but if we keep filling the atmosphere with crap, we will certainly get very very hot in the next years.


adamj.
Posted 20 January 2007 at 04:34 pm

Good grief,...leave it to a drunk to destroy something significant.

Keep writing!


Jonitiranes
Posted 21 January 2007 at 07:36 am

it's this sort of things that piss me off


frenchsnake
Posted 22 January 2007 at 08:03 am

trillian said: "I'm still curious as to what frenchsnake was saying he thinks the American national symbol is."

She. And sorry I wasn't clear. I was thinking about how people commonly think of monuments like the Statue of Liberty as the symbol of the United States, whereas some countries are represented by magnificent mountains or waterfalls. Of course, what each person considers to be their primary national symbol is up for debate. Maybe I just thought of the Statue of Liberty because I live in the Empire State, and I'd rather have my friends in Europe think of the Adirondack Mountains than a statue when they think of the US...

And as for an American national bird, I vote red-tailed hawk. Or maybe the tawny frogmouth ^_^
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawny_frogmouth

cutterjohn said: "DI as usual. However, it was simply a tree. I dont know about you guys, but ive chopped my fair share of wood, so a solitary tree isnt going to get much of a rise out of me. Really, it wasnt the tree that was special, but its location. It was only important as a landmark. Had it been a big boulder the same significance would have applied. I'll grant that it was pretty cool that it had survived alone in the middle of the desert, but.. its a tree.

Guess im just not much of a romantic."

I agree with you in one sense. There are many, many trees in the world, but what was special about this one was its location. However, the main difference I see between a tree and most other landmarks is that unlike a building or a statue, a tree can't be rebuilt. (At least not quickly.)


needles
Posted 22 January 2007 at 03:07 pm

leave it to someone to coincidentally drive into the only tree in 300 some kilometers. that drunk guy probably would have missed the tree had he been trying to hit it.


frenchsnake
Posted 22 January 2007 at 10:41 pm

Makes me think of how the hockey coach used to say that you shouldn't look at the goalie before you shoot, because you'll end up aiming for the last thing you looked at. I don't know how well that worked...


*looking interested*
Posted 23 January 2007 at 10:13 pm

its a tree...and it died....so we panic? i mean yea...it helped ppl not get lost and that...and it helped ppl find a source of water...and it grew in the middle of the desert...hmmm...nvm...forget i said nethin


Chicken
Posted 24 January 2007 at 10:55 am

I 've read this website a while. I registered to comment that its very irritating how some ppl have to interject their crazy political diatribes into every single thread. It is literally in every discussion. I doubt I'm the only person fed up w/ reading about how some tree getting hit in a desert is the fault of the USA, capitalism, too many ppl living on the planet, and all other such NONSENSE. And why are ya'll bashing the eagle here too? I wish ppl would either get a life, or go post their 'unabomber manifestos' at political bbss where ppl are there who actually give a shit.

If there really are "too many ppl" on Mother Earth, I think the first culled should be all these political idealogues who can't ever seem to shut up and give ppl a break.

T.


G. D. Batman
Posted 24 January 2007 at 03:31 pm

ExperimentNo6 said: "I think it's kind of ironic that there's a wall around the sculpture but there wasn't one around the actual tree."

Oh crap. I lawled.

Chicken said: "Stuff"

Yeah, you have a mostly valid point (people actually give a shit -here-, which kind of moots your arguement I think). But you'd probably have had a greater impact if you didn't use internet shorthand like you did.


BrianTung
Posted 24 January 2007 at 03:51 pm

cutterjohn said: "DI as usual. However, it was simply a tree. I dont know about you guys, but ive chopped my fair share of wood, so a solitary tree isnt going to get much of a rise out of me. Really, it wasnt the tree that was special, but its location. It was only important as a landmark. Had it been a big boulder the same significance would have applied. I'll grant that it was pretty cool that it had survived alone in the middle of the desert, but.. its a tree.

Guess im just not much of a romantic."

Possibly depending on what you mean by "romantic," I don't think one needs to be a romantic to appreciate the last of a vanishing set. I think it is common human nature to be inspired by survival, especially under conditions as desolate as the Tree of Tenere. The shame is not so much that the tree perished, since it would have to have died at some point, but the manner in which it died--the carelessness of a truck driver compounding the shortsightedness not to have protected it with a barrier of some kind.

Unless the driver was malicious in addition to being drunk, I doubt that he intended to eliminate the tree as a mere obstacle to his truck, so as tempting as it might be to represent the accident as Humanity's Insensitivity to Nature Writ Very Very Small, it's probably misguided. Still, it's sort of sad that a little compassion for the tree--for crying out loud, we're talking about comments on a web site, not donating money to some fund--has to be viewed by a few folks as some sort of personality weakness.


frenchsnake
Posted 24 January 2007 at 10:49 pm

Chicken said: "I 've read this website a while. I registered to comment that its very irritating how some ppl have to interject their crazy political diatribes into every single thread. It is literally in every discussion. I doubt I'm the only person fed up w/ reading about how some tree getting hit in a desert is the fault of the USA, capitalism, too many ppl living on the planet, and all other such NONSENSE. And why are ya'll bashing the eagle here too? I wish ppl would either get a life, or go post their 'unabomber manifestos' at political bbss where ppl are there who actually give a shit.

If there really are "too many ppl" on Mother Earth, I think the first culled should be all these political idealogues who can't ever seem to shut up and give ppl a break.

T."

It was an idle comment. So sue me. But don't try to ignore the aspects of human nature that are important to this topic by oversimplifying the points of discussion. If you read every comment, you should be able to see how it all ties together, and there's no harm in talking. And that goes for the eagle stuff, too. It's quite interesting to hear the pros and cons of choosing a particular bird as your symbol, and not everything is meant to 'bash America'. Sheesh, just cool it, please.


frenchsnake
Posted 24 January 2007 at 10:50 pm

BrianTung, very well said.


PsychoDad
Posted 25 January 2007 at 01:25 pm

OK, it's sad and ironic that the tree got clipped twice by trucks, fatally, finally. Not to be too cynical --but some of the lameass comments above on the depredations of mankind are just too much-- so let's pull back to soft focus on the big picture--" ...climate change reduced the area to a desert as the trees perished." It WAS a forest several thousand years ago. It's a desert now. The tree was already over 300 years old. It would have died soon anyway. And Mother Nature had already raped the environment long before the Arabs came by. Climate change happens, all by itself. Trees die, all by themselves. It's a shame, but not the catastrophe some you froot loops are trying to make it in to. Get a life.


G. D. Batman
Posted 26 January 2007 at 07:58 am

frenchsnake said: "BrianTung, very well said."

Agreed.


Chicken
Posted 26 January 2007 at 01:51 pm

Frenchsnake, who do you think you're fooling? Of course you hijacking every topic and talking crap about my homeland in every thread is just perfectly calm, rational conversation. Merely jovial banter. When somebody finally had enough of it and tells you to shut up, they're the one's out of line right? I guess I'm the only one who's sick of it. Oh well.


frenchsnake
Posted 26 January 2007 at 08:20 pm

Riiiiiiight. I'm the bad guy because you're so touchy that you see any mention of the United States that's not blindly patriotic as an insult. I guess I'll just stop thinking too.

And by the way, I'm an American too. Chicken.


openside
Posted 01 February 2007 at 02:58 pm

Sorry I am late to the party - I have a lot of DI catch-up to do since returning from my holiday (vacation).

I don't often comment so long after a posting, but I felt compelled to here, as I did not see anyone make this point:

**it is barely remarkable at all that the tree was crashed into**

Think about it, if you were going to drive drunk (I don't condone drunk driving) then where would be the ideal place....ummm - how about a desert with nothing for miles but a solitary tree.

Couple this with the "what the hell do we do in the middle of a desert" scenario....Ooh I know - how about we get drunk and drive around like a loony (irrespective of nationality btw)

Now extrapolate this over the years that the tree and vehicles co-existed, and I think it's potentially more interesting that the tree wasn't destroyed sooner!!


openside
Posted 01 February 2007 at 03:00 pm

one more thing:

If the tree was still standing unharmed - would this article exist?
(serious question)


sulkykid
Posted 01 February 2007 at 03:17 pm

openside said: "one more thing:


If the tree was still standing unharmed - would this article exist?
(serious question)"

I would bet that the tree would be dead by now from depletion of the aquifer by that well.


ardna
Posted 03 February 2007 at 12:17 pm

With all the automobile traffic passing by, it was only a matter of time before someone ran the tree over.

sulkykid said: "I would bet that the tree would be dead by now from depletion of the aquifer by that well."

That's another possibility. But who knows how long it would have taken for the water to be depleted? If people were just passing through in trucks, then they wouldn't stop to get water like a nomad with a camel would.

For those saying "So what? It was just a measly tree!"
- It was a landmark
- It was practically one of a kind
- People depended on it
- And because of these things it became beloved by the people in that area

Does that not give it merit?

P.S. Someone should do a research paper on how fast comment boards get off topic and what the new irrelevant topics tend to be.


beatroks
Posted 04 February 2007 at 05:29 am

Stead311 said: "As interesting as the article is, I am just not THAT sad that the tree is gone. I mean… not to sound cynical.. but its a tree…. a TREE… i mean, it didnt even produce any fruit. That makes it somewhat lame. If it produced fruit i bet it would sell for $100.000's of bucks. Anyhow, i can appreciate why someone would want to keep a tree like this so don't think I am blind to it's beauty; but see where i am coming from… a tree in the middle of the desert.. that grew a delicious and mysterious DESERT FRUIT… something like nutter butters or something."

I'm getting tired so forgive me if im repeating something already said, but the tree was a certain variety of yellow flowering acacia. From what little of learnt from entheogens I know that this plant can be a source of DMT. A very potent psychedelic when smoked.
To you this may not be of any value, but maybe there was a reason the acacia's survived.
Perhaps they knew we still have a lot to be learned from them.
Or perhaps i'm just tripping.
Great article.


xcretor
Posted 23 February 2007 at 02:32 pm

Maybe the mysterious water source was not the aquifer at all...

I mean, it's the only tree for 400 kilometers, where would you choose to pee?


Freet
Posted 11 May 2007 at 01:37 pm

midnight said: ...I can't believe that the idiot that killed the tree wasn't strung up."

To what?


jhensley1998
Posted 12 May 2007 at 10:39 am

Stead311 said: "As interesting as the article is, I am just not THAT sad that the tree is gone. I mean… not to sound cynical.. but its a tree…. a TREE… i mean, it didnt even produce any fruit. That makes it somewhat lame. If it produced fruit i bet it would sell for $100.000's of bucks. Anyhow, i can appreciate why someone would want to keep a tree like this so don't think I am blind to it's beauty; but see where i am coming from… a tree in the middle of the desert.. that grew a delicious and mysterious DESERT FRUIT… something like nutter butters or something."

Dude....whoever wrote this comment is an IDIOT! It's not the fact of whether the true produced fruit or not...RETARD...it's the fact that this tree had been the only SURVIVOR of an entire forest that slowly died out and the fact that it was still there...the ONLY tree...for hundreds and hundreds of miles is remarkable as it is...but then some damned ASSHOLE, drunk asshole nonetheless, comes along and runs over THE ONLY TREE IN THE F***ING DESERT! You've got to be kidding me. I agree, if he had been trying to hit it, he probably would've missed it entirely. It's sad that humans are so irresponsible with nature to kill off something that's survived for millennia on its own accord...THAT'S THE POINT...NOT whether or not it produced f***ing fruit...you're the DOUCHE, moron!


Grim Reaper
Posted 03 September 2007 at 12:57 am

WOW!! This guy hit the only tree in the entire fucking desert what are the odds of that jesus and with all that vast emptiness he still hits the damn thing thats unbelivable


belyaun
Posted 29 September 2007 at 09:19 pm

Grim Reaper said: "WOW!! This guy hit the only tree in the entire fucking desert what are the odds of that jesus and with all that vast emptiness he still hits the damn thing thats unbelivable"

That's what I was thinking, did he just aim for it


Alx_xlA
Posted 26 January 2008 at 09:24 pm

ConcernedCitizen said: "@Merciless: It was probably never called the Sahara Forest, since the word "sahara" is the Arabic word for "desert"."

Well, isn't calling it the Sahara Desert redundant? It means Desert Desert, not unlike the Sierra Mountains (Sierra means "Mountain," in Spanish), which are therefore called, the Mountain Mountains.


Rachelita
Posted 12 May 2008 at 01:58 pm

God! Thats ridiculous! *shakes head in dismay*


BenKinsey
Posted 02 December 2008 at 08:12 am

Thats so cutup what are the odds i would love to know. How do u lose control of the vehicle in that situation. I would like to have a pic of that guy and frame it. Very funny article it definitely made my day.


Liz Forrest
Posted 16 February 2009 at 02:57 pm

Hello, I hadn't heard of the Tree before, and just stumbled across these comments. As a thank you, I feel it necessary to question one of them:

It WAS a forest several thousand years ago. It's a desert now. The tree was already over 300 years old. It would have died soon anyway. And Mother Nature had already raped the environment long before the Arabs came by. Climate change happens, all by itself. Trees die, all by themselves. It's a shame, but not the catastrophe some you froot loops are trying to make it in to. Get a life.

Specifically, the part in the above quote stating, 'Mother Nature had already raped the environment long before the Arabs came by.' Difficult for Mother Nature to rape herself, I would have thought. That her somewhat ignorant, though admittedly very young child is playing games with itself to the point of ultimate selfishness and insanity, and proving itself so capable of scapegoating, and xenophobia, it's a miracle that any of its siblings still care about it enough to want to interact with it .... But here's a thought: Why did Buddha become enlighted beneath a 'bodhi' tree?
Stetch the spelling just a little to see the cosmic joke we have possibly made of ourselves, or someone has, and the tragedy that we still seek happiness at the cost of suffering to others, so many of them trees, while someone else reaps the profits through the words of prophets. Look to the little furred, feathered and chitinous ones in your lives for guidance. They know, they see, they care. And read the story of Balaam and the Donkey in the Old Testament. Oh and don't forget to keep your balance with a sense of humour and a pinch of salt. :-) Perhaps Dionysos decided to end the incredible loneliness of the acacia tree spirit in the only way at his disposal.


Damnfan
Posted 31 October 2009 at 09:32 pm

Hyperion's height is 115.55 meters not 155.5 as mentioned in the article. I am a little surprised that this mistake was not fixed for the publication of "Alien Hand Syndrome."


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