Those of us with a more conservative view on the world have been known to refer to the more liberal and environmentally conscious among us as “tree huggers.” A new study would seem to indicate that we ALL need to give a hug of thanks to the next tree we see.

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Previous studies have shown the ability of trees and forests to moderate temperatures, control erosion, filter water, and even promote more peaceful neighborhoods in inner cities - but a new study has found that trees can also save lives.

Is that spin or is that for real? I suppose it depends on your lungs. The U.S. Forest Service discovered that the pollution-removing qualities of trees save approximately 850 human lives per year, prevent roughly 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms and save approximately $7 billion on medical costs.

Researchers say, "With more than 80 percent of Americans living in urban areas, this research underscores how truly essential urban forests are to people across the nation." (UPI)

So think before you carve your initials in that Elm or whittle that twig.  You could be messing with your new best friend!