Isn't what this work studied. They correlated a specific insect cause of tree death with human welfare. The methodology was specifically constructed to remove confounding factorsâ" things like air pollution killing both the trees and the humans.
What is testing has, at best, a loose relation with what it set out to prove. The test was "the loss of 100 million trees to the emerald ash borer", but they looked at "the relationship between emerald ash borer presence and county-level mortality." These aren't the same thing. What they were looking at was how many of these insects were present. They concluded that the more of these insects in the area, the higher the mortality rate. The trees are the insects principal food, and it's easier to measure the number of trees in an area than the number of insects.
That isn't to say the research is flawless but it was deeper and more carefully constructed that your slashdot arm-chair-expert off the hip comment gives it credit for.
So what you're saying is this "arm-chair-expert off the hip" person is right -- the research is flawed. Which was the point. And unlike an Anonymous Coward "arm-chair insulter", I provided clear reasoning which many people responded to and asked me to be modded up and that it was, indeed, poor science -- a fact you aren't disputing.
The fact that I only pointed out failings exist and didn't go into great detail studying the study, as it were, appears to be the only source of your disrespect, but you're too afraid to actually post under your own name because you know you're making an ad hominid attack.. but figured that remaining anonymous and kow-towing the popular opinion that girls on slashdot must be stupid would get your comment modded up, and me down, because the moderators don't stop and think anymore about what's actually being said... they just go with their feelings.
The methodology is exactly what I'm attacking: That this correlation justifies their conclusion. It doesn't. I actually have the full study pulled up and had looked at it some time before slashdot posted it to the front page -- and having looked it over, I think it's nice as a piece of exploratory research, but I disagree vehemently with both PBS and the OP's summary of the study -- they take a single correlation and somehow expand it to mean "trees = better health".
That's not what the study said. That's not what the science says. And that's not what I said either. To get to that conclusion requires a lot more data than this single point, which doesn't even show a strong correlation. It hasn't reached a level of statistical importance that would even justify further research. And while yes, there is a "growing body of evidence" that the natural environment provides health benefits... well fucking duh. How is that advancing our knowledge in any meaningful way? It isn't! We already knew that living inside the core of a nuclear reactor is worse for your health than living in the suburb it serves. Duh, of course environment has an impact on health.
But it is amazingly, confoundingly difficult, to say what in the environment causes health benefits. There's very little solid ground to stand on here; Most of what we know is correlative, and weak at best. A lot, and I mean a lot of additional research has to be done before we can even get past those stupid stickers on bottles of oxygen that say "Known to cause cancer in the State of California" let alone to the point where we can confidently start making changes to the environment knowing they will most likely lead to improvements in human health.
That's the state of the art as it exists today, and that's not something being said by a "arm-chair expert" as an "off the hip comment"... but by the majority of the scientific community. And frankly, I feel sorta dirty having to justify the call for more data, and more research... it's the single most commonly heard thing amongst scientists... "Well, the data looks promising, but I think we need to study this more before we draw any conclusions." I've said pretty much exactly that, and I get slapped in the face by jerks like you for being an "arm chair expert"... *shakes head* Really disappointed, slashdot...