Sunday, 30 November 2008


Go hug one today, while you still can.

Jared Diamond really rates trees. He wrote a book about why societies survive or fail and gave comparative examples. Japan for example is heavily forested, and is doing OK thank you very much. Easter Island is the famous counter-example. The Easter Islanders chopped all their trees down and their society collapsed. They couldn't have known that because of the type of island, and it's geographical location, the rate of replenishment would be exceeded by the rate of consumption. Yet the wastefulness of the resource use (to build and transport the statues to enhance the prestige of their elite) has obvious parallels with the modern world.

Look at most Pacific Islands and you'll find that they are heavily forested. Really. Open up google Earth and take a close look at Ducie Island, or Tetiaroa, or Tahiti or Kauai and you'll find swathes of thick forest. Easter Island though remains largely deforested to this day, as the picture shows...

Of course, you wouldn't find us doing something so stupid in this day and age, now would you?

The Amazon is being cleared at a rate of about 11,750 square kilometres a year. That's an area slightly bigger than Wales being denuded every two years. If it continues at it's current rate, there will be no more Amazonian rainforest in 142 years. If the rate of deforestation increases because, for example, there's less of alternative sources of nourishment or energy, it will happen in less time. And with the forests of course, will go the thousands of species of plants and animals that depend upon it.

But scary as this is, it's chickenshit compared to what's going on in other parts of the world. The Asian rainforests are being cleared even faster.

It's not so much that people need wood. It's that that they need land. There's money to be made from growing things like cows and coffee and palm oil and soya.

Of course, we need Biodiveristy and oxygen and what-have-you, but we have to prioritise. People gotta earn a crust now, aint they?

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