‘The Power of Trees:’ Among the ‘Machines’ Fighting Climate Change
Adrian Benepe of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden believes in trees and is highlighting them in a new exhibit. And New Yorks City Council is back on the ballot starting Saturday. The Lorax of Brooklyn Adrian Benepe, the president of the led the way to a Dawn Redwood, a 92-foot-tall sequoia. Yes, a giant sequoia grows in Brooklyn, a continent away from the redwood forests that Woody Guthrie sang about in This Land Is Your Land. Benepe also padded past a trio of spiky-looking more about them later and paid homage to a huge hybrid oak that is wider than it is tall. It survived a powerful summer storm several years ago thanks to cables and bolts that the arborists at the garden rigged up to bind it back together. Now Benepe was talking about the importance of seeing the trees in the forest. Many people come to a botanical garden for the roses, which are in full bloom now, or for the cherry trees or the flower shows, and they walk past the trees, he said. Were trying to highlight the fact that the trees may be the most impressive part of our collection. And not just because the back stories are intriguing. One thing we know to help us combat climate change, not just address the impact of it, but to help reduce climate change, is preserving trees and preserving big old trees, he said, because thats whats working the hardest for us in a place like New York City. Old trees, he said, are these amazing machines invented by nature that absorb our pollution and give us back oxygen and, along the way, help to reverse climate change. Its not some romantic fantasy, he said. It is part of the message of The Power of Trees, an exhibition that opens tomorrow and showcases 52 trees, along with six new sculptures commissioned by the garden and , which works to promote artists who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color. The trees, Benepe said, are all growing in the same Brooklyn soil, and their roots are touching and their needles or leaves are touching, so its kind of like an image for Brooklyn, but just with plants. The Power of Trees comes at a bright moment for the garden. Attendance is up 30 percent from last year and higher than in 2019, a residual benefit of the pandemic lockdown in 2020, when the only thing we could do was go to parks, Benepe said. But while city parks were open through the pandemic, the garden was closed for several months. Benepe said there were days when the cherry trees were in bloom during the lockdown when people stood on the other side of the gardens fence, just to get a glimpse. The conversation soon returned to the benefits of trees. Benepe said the trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide and store the carbon (which comes from fossil-fuel based pollution) in their leaves and wood. But big, old trees absorb far more carbon than smaller, younger trees do, he said. It turned out that some of the gardens newest trees have long lineages. Botanists sometimes refer to the monkey-puzzle tree as a living fossil the monkey-puzzles sharp leaves are thought to have evolved as a defense against voracious dinosaurs. But the three monkey-puzzle trees in the conifer grove at the garden are less than a decade old. They grew in pots until a few months ago, when Jake Nager and Travis Wolf, the gardens arborists, transplanted them. It took a forklift to move them from the places they had occupied in their pots, near the gardens visitor center. Benepe said he had passed by as Nager and Wolf were maneuvering the monkey-puzzle trees into the ground. The scene prompted him to ask what he called a very anthropomorphic question, namely: What do you think these trees must be feeling and experiencing now? Theyve been root-bound in these pots for years. Suddenly theyre in the ground. There are the roots of other trees here. Are they welcoming them? Weather Prepare for a chance of showers and thunderstorms with temperatures near the high 70s. At night, possible showers and thunderstorms persist. Temps will drop to the low 60s. ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING In effect until Monday (Juneteenth). : After a two-week trial, a jury is considering the case of a former New York police sergeant and two others accused of : A 54-year-old man targeted a 14-year-old girl through her Instagram account, passed her off as his daughter on trips around the country, : A Queens man was charged with stabbing and killing a man during : Bill de Blasio was ordered to reimburse the city nearly $320,000 and pay a $155,000 fine for : Rethink Food, a nonprofit that feeds the hungry, has started an initiative with New York City that : Officials began investigating when the boat, which capsized in a cavern in western New York, had last been inspected. : Felix Morelos chalk circles a good luck spot, drawn in pastel pink or blue or yellow. Or maybe a bad luck spot : Nikita Richardson, an editor for Timess Food and Cooking desk, discusses her recent guide on Where to Eat in New York City this Summer on The New York Times Close Up With Sam Roberts. The show airs on Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. [ ] For the City Council races on the ballot this year, for the June 27 primaries, with early voting beginning on Saturday. All 51 members of City Council are running to remain in office, including candidates who won two years ago under . Less than half of the races are being contested, and of those, 13 races feature more than two candidates making ranked-choice voting necessary. (The district attorney races in the Bronx and Queens and judgeships that are on the ballot are not eligible for ranked-choice because those positions are authorized by the state, not the city.) Ranked-choice voting was used in the mayors race in 2021 and is used to choose other kinds of winners, like Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Alaska and Maine have used ranked-choice voting in some elections. It is also used in campus elections at 95 colleges and universities across the country, according to . It gives the voters more voice and more choices, said Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York. It results in more wins for candidates of color and especially women. But most especially, its very pro-voter. Opponents say that ranked-choice voting can be confusing and may discourage some voters from casting ballots. New York voters overwhelmingly for primary and special elections for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president and the City Council. in order of preference. Candidates sometimes cross-endorse each other to boost their chances with ranked-voting, and that has already happened this time around. Two Democratic candidates in the competitive City Council race in Harlem endorsed each other: Yusef Salaam, an activist who was wrongly imprisoned in the Central Park rape case, and Al Taylor, a state assemblyman. My colleague Emma G. Fitzsimmons says the move appeared aimed at stopping Inez Dickens, a Democratic state assemblywoman who formerly held the Council seat. METROPOLITAN DIARY Dear Diary: I was waiting to cross the street on a chilly night in Brooklyn when I found myself standing next to a woman who was clutching a bottle of wine to her chest, swaying back and forth and singing the theme from Disneys Cinderella. Noticing her companions apparent indifference to what she was doing, I joined in loudly, singing along with her until the light turned green. As I crossed the street, I heard her turn to her companion and say: See? Thats what I miss about New York City! Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at email@example.com. is a Metro reporter and columnist who writes the New York Today newsletter. In 2020 and 2021, he wrote the Coronavirus Update column, part of coverage that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service. He is the author of two books and was the editor of The New York Times Book of New York.