This Tree of Life Is Real
Imagine a tree that can provide both nutritious food and clean water. Moringa oleifera is such a tree. It grows in Africa and Asia and is being looked at as a life-giving plant that can reduce bacterial contamination of water by 90 to 99.99% by filtering water with its seeds.
Science Daily has a picture of the tree’s leaves. “A billion people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America are estimated to rely on untreated surface water sources for their daily water needs,” the article said, based on information from John Wiley & Sons Corporate Citizenship Initiative. “Of these, some two million are thought to die from diseases caught from contaminated water every year, with the majority of these deaths occurring among children under five years of age.” Michael Lea, a researcher at Clearinghouse, a Canadian organization dedicated to investigating and implementing low-cost water purification technologies, just published a low-cost water purification technique using seeds from the Moringa tree at Current Protocols. By low cost he means no cost. The trees already live where they are needed.
“Moringa tree seeds, when crushed into powder, can be used as a water-soluble extract in suspension, resulting in an effective natural clarification agent for highly turbid and untreated pathogenic surface water,” the article explained. “As well as improving drinkability, this technique reduces water turbidity (cloudiness) making the result aesthetically as well as microbiologically more acceptable for human consumption.”
But that’s not all. Lea said, “Not only is [the tree] drought resistant, it also yields cooking and lighting oil, soil fertilizer, as well as highly nutritious food in the form of its pods, leaves, seeds and flowers.” He calls it “one of the world’s most useful trees.” Lea is trying to make the procedure widely available, because children have been dying in third world countries when a solution has been growing right around them.
Lea counted other benefits, like income from cultivating the trees. He envisions the “possibility that thousands of 21st century families could find themselves liberated from what should now be universally seen as 19th century causes of death and disease. This is an amazing prospect, and one in which a huge amount of human potential could be released,” he said. “This is particularly mind-boggling when you think it might all come down to one incredibly useful tree.”
What a great story. It’s a modern-day Acres of Diamonds tale that hopefully will make a real difference in the health and happiness of people suffering from unnecessary diseases in poor countries. There’s wealth all around them – right there in trees that many probably took for granted. Killmer’s poem Trees is rustling in the background of this article. Visions of Eden (Genesis 2), or of the heavenly Jerusalem with trees lining the river of life bearing fruit for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:2), come to mind. Only God can make a tree of life – He did, and He will.
Moringa is undoubtedly not the only case of an undiscovered renewable resource that can benefit man. If you are a young person interested in science, let this kind of story be your inspiration. Don’t follow the crowd after Darwin’s fake tree of life. That’s a deadly tree that produces Darwincense, a habit-forming drug that gives cheap highs while frying your brain. Instead, seek to understand the world around you so that you can make it a better place and help your fellow man.
Update 03/11/2010: A reader suggested a tie-in to a Biblical event: check it out in Exodus 15:22-26.