"Primary Forest"?

Robert G. Weinberger hr161 at cleveland.Freenet.Edu
Mon Feb 26 23:58:01 EST 1996

Primary Forest _ "Forests which have not been cleared on a 
large scale by people."
I started this thread on an unwarranted assumption that those 
who wear the mantle of scientist would understand the 
importance of objective definitions and the difference between 
objective definitions and subjective terms.  That assumption 
led me to conclude that any scientist who chose to inject subjective 
terms -posed as objective definitions- into a scientific 
discussion, did so knowingly as a tactic to appeal to the 
I see now that I was wrong and apologize for attributing 
motives that, it is now obvious, didn't exist. Anyone who 
sees no problem vigorously defending a definition as objective 
when it depends on a purely subjective term ("large scale") as a key 
element, could not possibly have thought through such a motive.
I had also apparently wrongly assumed that a common understanding
of such subjective terms was possible only in the abstract or at the
far extremes, while a major goal of science and scientists was to 
contribute to common understanding of basic truths.
I likewise could not believe that a scientist in the biological
sciences would place value judgements into such an argument regarding
activities based on the motives which drive them rather on than their
results.  I had thought that objecting to the result of human 
(specifically modern human) disturbance "...because of the goals we
have set for benefits from our forests.", was like an economist 
objecting to capitolism -regardless of its overall results, not 
because of inequities that the system often causes, but because 
it is a system based on greed.  I now understand that *all* human
disturbance to the forest is to be condemned because "Human disturbance 
to forests tends to be more severe, wide scale, and chronic in 
nature than natural disturbance..."  I now realize that my 
conclusions (based on 35 years  as an on - the - ground practicing  
graduate forester whose education really began after graduation) that
fire, wind, insects & disease had more impact on forest structure and
ecological trajectory than our puny efforts, was wrong.  After all the 
former are natural processes, while anything that humans do 
(extra natural beings?)is by definition unnatural.                      
Apologies to all - Bob Weinberger

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