Following on my recent post on biofuels, I want to mention this article from the Washington Post, which details a recent effort by the Bush administration to allow road-building and logging in pristine forest.
This is essentially a similar problem: we have gotten used to acting as if the earth contains infinite supplies for our needs. The truth is, it does not–we have been living off of millions of years of savings. In addition, though, when it comes to logging, it is possible to manage forestland to produce timber in an ecologically feasible way, but it is not a good idea to manage all available forestland. There are ecological benefits to leaving large areas of forest untouched. They create species diversity and trap carbon dioxide.
This passage captures the problem nicely:
Alaska Regional Forester Denny Bschor said the plan would provide livelihoods for state residents while protecting the health of the forest and ensuring opportunities for recreation and solitude.
Logging creates jobs for people, and people want jobs. Recreation here means road access–another instance of putting ourselves first. It is necessary for us to realize that, in terms of our ability to impact the earth’s environment, we have grow up. It is no longer possible to treat the earth as our playground, because there will be consequences that will hurt us.
Cut down forests and build networks of roads, and you increase carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and increase the possibilities of flooding and mudslides. These tradeoffs happen whether we take them into account or not. The Republican party seems to be completely ignorant of this fact.