A Really Silly Idea

Ron Wenrich woodtick at lebmofo.com
Thu Mar 5 15:55:52 EST 1998

Karl Davies wrote:

> What if the forest products industries were to stake out the
> environmental high ground on the issue of climate change?

I didn't realize that the industry was taking the low ground.  I think
the industry is pretty neutral on the subject of climate change, after
all we are in a carbon neutral or lessening industry.  Do you think we
could put a dent in fossil fuel consumption?  Look what has happened
to all those co-gen projects throughout the country.  Biomass cannot
compete with fossil fuels.  Gasoline has slipped to .96, and with
lower consumption in the Pacific rim, these prices could slip further.

> What would happen if the forest products industries (with great
> public fanfare) <G> were to renounce their own subsidies and
> challenge the fossil fuel industries to do the same?  What if
> timber industries were to insist on paying for road construction
> to Forest Service timber sales?

Here in the East, there are very few subsidies to our mills, other
than R&D and most mills don't take advantage of that.  Road
construction on State sales are deducted from the stumpage prices.
Doesn't this happen of Fed sales?

> The obvious big question on these moves would be whether the
> returns would offset the costs.  Loss of free road construction
> would hurt some companies big time.  All companies would have to
> pony up something for the trust and the public relations
> campaigns.

Most industry associations have taken on PR campaigns.  Small,
individual mills cannot afford such luxuries.

> But the long-term bottom line would certainly be positive.  There
> would be much lower risk of damage from hurricanes, tornadoes,
> ice storms, wildfires, insect and disease outbreaks.  Mortality
> rates would decline and growth rates would increase.
> Foresters and forest products industries would be transformed
> from environmental pariahs into heroes. <G> And we/they could
> continue to embrace Adam Smith, John Locke and other apostles of
> economic self-interest.  <G> We could have our cake and eat it
> too.  Or am I dreaming?
> Karl Davies, Consulting Forester
> Northampton, MA

Yes, you're dreaming.  We can't even get a concensus of how forest
mgmt should be carried out, let alone larger debates on global
warming.  I would like to remind you that the Kyoto accord didn't even
raise an eyebrow in this NG.


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