When Will They Get a Clue?!

Karl Davies kdavies at igc.apc.org
Fri Jan 9 19:47:39 EST 1998


How bad does it have to get?  What will it take for policy makers
to realize that climate change is real and that it has real bad
effects?  When will the timber industry catch on and start to use
their power to influence policy?  Will it be too late when they
finally do?   

I remember last year around this time rushing around like crazy
trying to arrange salvage operations for red pine timber that had
been damaged by the December 9 wet snowstorm here in Southern 
New England.  Four months later I was doing the same thing for 
trees that had been damaged in the April 1 wet snowstorm.   Pine
markets were flooded with salvage timber.

These severity of these storms was attributed to the unusually
warm water in the Gulf Stream last winter.  This year we have El
Nino's warm Pacific water wreaking weather havoc all over the

And this week we have a truly catastrophic winter storm damage in
Northern New England and Upstate New York.  It's an ice storm so
all species are heavily damaged.  Salvage operations will flood
all timber markets.  Landowners will suffer terrible financial
losses, and not just on the present value of their timber and
growing stock, but on future values too.

Just the other day I was looking at Alex Shigo's 1969 research
paper on discoloration and decay resulting from tree injuries. 
The worst damage was caused by crown wounds that advanced down
into the trees.  The crown wounds were caused by ice and snow
damage.  This week's storm will hurt timber values for the next

Maybe it would help to haul some of those damned oil and coal
company executives and their PR flacks out into the woods to look
at all the damage.  Or better yet make them get out with
chainsaws and clean up some of the mess.  By force if necessary. 

Ross Gelbspan's book The Heat Is On describes the disgusting
politics of the `debate` on climate change.  It's not really a
debate at all.  It's really just money versus science.  And of
course the servile news media and politicians play along just
like they're supposed to.

Gelbspan describes the terrible present effects of climate
change, and indicates how bad it will get in the future.  He
talks about increased forest fires due to droughts, stunted
growth of boreal forests from increased heat and CO2, and
outbreaks of insect infestation due to warmer temperatures.  But
he leaves out ice and snow damage. 

Here in southern New England it's been raining for the past week.
It's getting to be a pattern.  At least 2 weeks out of the year I
can't work outside because of some kind of extreme weather: deep
snow, rain, heat.  And I don't have to drive a skidder.  Loggers
are losing even more time.

I'm not even talking about the forest damage and decline due to
air pollution produced by burning the same oil and coal that
causes the climate change.  The evidence is mounting on this
count too, despite all political wrangling by the oil and coal
corps with the political parties and the NSF.  See Charles
Little's book The Dying of the Trees. 

So here's the question:  When will the timber industry join with
the insurance industry to try to save their own butts and the
rest of the world's too?  Or are they going to let themselves be
intimidated and pushed around by the big oil boys?  Are they
going to stick with the idiotic Republican/corporate line on this
or are they going to open their eyes and think for themselves?

Karl Davies, Consulting Forester
Northampton, MA   

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