Tree Cutting Rant

A Rant About Tree Cutting

So, you object to tree cutting?  Well, that seems to be a common right-thinking social sentiment.  You stand in good company.  After all, who likes to see trees cut down!?

However, allow me to point out that you are a major consumer of wood, which comes from trees, which live in forests.  There is no small amount of hypocrisy in objecting to cutting trees when you use so much of it.  In fact, the average American uses about 4.5 pounds of wood each day.  That’s roughly equivalent to half a two-by-four.

If you do, indeed, stand by your socially-conscious and environmentally-friendly guns, allow me to suggest that you stop using wood products and those things dependent upon wood products.  First, I recommend surrendering all toilet paper and Kleenex.  Books, posters, newspapers, and other reading materials should go next.  Of course, anything that uses electricity will have to go, as you certainly cannot receive power without a wooden utility pole somewhere along the line. 

Soon after that, I believe you should give up all your furniture made with wood.  As a matter of fact, you will need to move out of your house and live in the great outdoors, which actually might sound like a pretty cool idea.  Of course, you may not use any wood to cook your food and build warming fires.  Regarding food, you will likely be able to eat only what you hunt and gather.  If you are a vegetarian, this will be much harder. 

You will not be able use anything that has been transported by plane, train, ship, or truck.  Very few items can be moved without cardboard packaging, boxes, pallets, crates, or dunnage (the wooden pieces used to keep goods from moving around on ships).  Lastly, you will likely have to give-up coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Maybe that will spook you more than anything else? 

So, as you hoard your own woodland, I must file a grievance about your decision that places an even greater burden on my woodland.  Of course, “my” woodland might be my very own, or perhaps public land, or maybe even those forests in other countries that don’t have the legal, social, and economic conservation infrastructure that we do.  As you export these “problems” to others, enjoy your membership in the brotherhood and sisterhood of environmental terrorism and social injustice. 

Have you re-thought your opinion yet?  I hope so.  The question is not so much whether or not to cut trees, but when, where, and how to cut trees.  If you really think this through, it will become apparent that you cannot live without the cutting of trees.  Of course, there are many things that we depend upon, or have great affect upon us, that we just don’t have the time to think about.  Many things.  Nobody really expects everyone to know about everything.  However, you should at least not hinder the people who are cutting trees and processing wood for you, at least not the harvest done using science-based forest management knowledge.  They really do know more about the subject than you. 

Not convinced?  Well, you probably don’t object to driving your car.  Yet, cars kill thousands of people every year, not to mention they cause untold human strife in the acquisition of crude oil.  Wars.  Poverty.  Evil.  Greed.  How about all the carbon you release into the atmosphere?  In addition, the plastics and metals that make up most of your car were mined from all over the world, causing almost unthinkable damage, even here in North America, where we enjoy the fewest problems.  Just imagine all the ecological havoc and human misery that has occurred so that you can drive six blocks to the grocery store to buy organic food that others have grown for you, or commute to your little piece of heaven in the land-gobbling world of exurbia. 

Processing wood, as far as raw materials go, requires the least amount of energy input and causes the least amount of environmental damage (by far).  This is well researched.  In fact, in most cases, timber harvesting actually results in a number of environmental enhancements, although there are those who don’t want you to believe this.  Tree cutting, especially in the context of sound forest management, certainly should be way low on the priority list of social and environmental concerns. 

Not that cutting trees has not caused massive disruptions in the past, or sometimes is done irresponsibly even today.  But here in North America, we do know how to manage our forests well.  Of course, technology allows us to probe the answers to increasingly complex and fascinating questions.  We are still learning.  However, we have over 75 years of experience and enough research to drown a herd of buffalo stretched across the Dakotas

Forests are not so fragile.  They have largely recovered from the massive slaughter of past centuries, in no small part due to forest management.  After all, how can millions upon millions of forest tourists be wrong?  The negative ecological effect of skillfully applied tree cutting and forest management that we see today is peanuts compared to what occurred in the past.  In fact, the benefits dwarf any possible drawbacks.  Sometimes, remembering a bit of history, mixing it with some comparative risk analysis, and then a touch of common sense makes perceived problems evaporate. 

Next time you consider complaining about somebody cutting trees, think about running around half-naked, looking for bugs and tubers to eat.  You need wood.  You need good forestry.  We all do.  You don’t need to know about it (although it’s really interesting), but neither should you get in its way.  You have to trust somebody, so it might as well be the folks with the skills and background.  You trust your doctor, don't you?  Besides, it’s real easy to find something far more important to complain about.  The world is full of opportunities for good people to do good things and help correct bad situations.  Tree cutting is just not one of those bad situations.

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