Live to See the Forests Rejoice!
“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree. . . .
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”
TO THE truth that “only God can make a tree,” American poet Joyce Kilmer, whose talented life was cut short by World War I, might appropriately have added the thought, ‘and only God can keep a tree alive.’
Despite the battle cry “Save Our Forests,” human efforts at preserving the forests are meeting with only limited success. Even the “good news” offered by a September 1986 report is of little comfort. It speaks of “a high-level stabilization,” which in plain words means that Waldsterben is still spreading but at a lower rate than in years past.
According to a leading German newspaper, a growing feeling of helplessness is to be found among scientists. It quotes Professor Peter Schütt of Munich’s Institute of Forestry, who recently told a concerned audience: “Let’s not fool ourselves. We long ago reached the limits of our possibilities.” He warned that if present attempts to curb air pollution fail, “we will be left with absolutely nothing else to try.”
And how can the prospects for solving the problem of air pollution be described? Gloomy, dreary, or bleak—take your pick. “The quality of air has not improved,” declares the Swiss newspaper Die Weltwoche. While “plant physiologists are still involved in time-consuming, detailed work, trying to determine which pollutant is striking which tree to what extent, . . . once disconcerted drivers are regaining their old self-confidence and driving faster than they should. The sale of cars with catalytic converters has stagnated . . . Not much of anything has changed, except that the flurry of excitement [about Waldsterben] is long past.”
A Realistic Solution Is at Hand
To believe that Waldsterben can be successfully solved by humans is unrealistic. Why? Because they lack accurate knowledge both of its causes and of effective methods for combating it. Moreover, humans lack the power to control natural forces like weather patterns and ecosystems. Besides, inherited selfishness prevents them from renouncing personal interests in favor of the common good.
Yet, there are reasons for optimism. Bible chronology and physical facts indicate that God’s long-prayed-for Kingdom is at hand. The establishment of this government was foretold almost 1,900 years ago in these words: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:17, 18) Soon, as promised, “the appointed time” will arrive for God “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth,” including polluters who are ruining his forests.
Under divine rule, obedient mankind will be properly instructed in how to prevent air pollution and its by-product Waldsterben. Imagine how the earth will rejoice, symbolically speaking, when the balance of nature has been restored with positive effects on climate, agriculture, and health. “Let the earth be joyful, and let [it] say among the nations, ‘Jehovah himself has become king!’ . . . At the same time let the trees of the forest break out joyfully.” (1 Chronicles 16:31-33) Restored to a condition of greater beauty and well-being than ever before, “the trees of the forest” will indeed have every reason to “break out joyfully.”
But before that time arrives, Waldsterben may get worse. For example, in September 1986 the above-mentioned newspaper wrote: “Cultivated plants in the lowlands are beginning to waste away; cherry trees in northwest Switzerland have lost their zest, and farmers are seeking counsel from agriculture officials.” A similar situation in Germany recently led the state of Baden-Württemberg to begin an investigation of the connection between air pollution and damaged fruit trees. Although no statistics are yet available, it is reported that scientists believe that stone fruits in particular are endangered.
Reports like these may remind Bible students of Habakkuk 3:17. Speaking of our day, it says: “Although the fig tree itself may not blossom, and there may be no yield on the vines; the work of the olive tree may actually turn out a failure, and the terraces themselves may actually produce no food.”
If, however, you place your trust in God and support his Kingdom rule, you, like Habakkuk, will have no reason for fear. (Habakkuk 3:18) On the contrary, you have every reason to look to the future with optimism and to be joyful. The problem of Waldsterben is about to be solved—permanently and completely. You, too, can live to see the forests rejoice—and all mankind with them!