Saving paper kills trees

Saving paper doesn’t save trees. This is what I have on the bottom of my emails, “If you feel it necessary to print this message, recall that wood is 100% renewable resource & we grow most of the pulp wood for paper sustainably on American tree farms.” Some people like it; some are offended; most probably don’t notice. I put it on there against those silly ones that tell you to be careful not to print in order to save trees.

Saving paper does not save trees because most paper is made from pulp trees grown sustainably on tree farms.

The trees cut for pulp are usually cut as part of thinning operations. They CANNOT be saved. If you do not thin your forests, growth slows; health declines and beetles start to attack all the trees. You could thin the trees and then just leave them on the ground, but that leads to fire danger and insect infestations. Thinning trees is good for the health of the forest. It is also good for wildlife, since the thinning allows sunlight into the woods, encouraging the diverse food supplies wildlife needs. Forest landowners don't make much money from thinning operations. Most of the money they make goes into forest improvement, BUT if there is no profitable market (i.e. paper) for thinned wood most forest landowners cannot afford to do it at all.

The bottom line is that the paper industry contributes to healthy forests. Forests would be LESS robust w/o paper industry demand for pulpwood. People should put what I have on the bottom of their emails. If they want to measure environmental costs, they need to measure energy.

The environmental impact of paper on forest health is a net benefit. The place where paper could be a negative is energy cost. It takes energy to cut trees, process paper and move it to your office. This means that NOT using paper may be a good thing in some cases, if energy costs outweigh effects on forest health.

What rarely makes sense is recycling small amounts of paper. Make the distinction. Recycling bulk paper makes sense. Recycling small batches does not. Think of the energy costs. You have to collect paper using trucks and then put it through a similar process as making paper from wood. The equation involves the energy needed to harvest timber versus the energy required to "harvest" recycling. Collecting small amounts of paper, especially paper that is soiled, makes no sense. Recycling that Starbucks cup almost certainly is worse for the environment than would be making paper with newly harvested trees. The paper plants are probably closer to the forest than they are to the places where you are tossing those cups. It will cost a lot to clean these things and paper is heavy. It takes a lot of energy to move.

The big problem if you don't recycle paper is the space it takes in landfills. This is also not a clear choice. Wood sequesters carbon until it is burned or decays. If the paper made from wood sits in landfills, it holds onto that carbon for a long time. Somebody should do the math on this. I have seen no reliable study, however.

So the common denominator of all this is energy. Does it take more energy to recycle or make new paper? Add in the variable that the demand for paper is beneficial to forest health. Paper making may use trees but it saves forests by increasing forest health.

Speaking of energy, the widespread replacement of paper with electronic files is not ecologically free. Data is stored and processed at large computer service farms. Computers in server farms run 24/7 and consume prodigious amounts of electricity, both for the computers and the air conditioning needed to keep them cool. But this is another story.

The bottom line is that saving paper does not save trees and may actually have negative impacts on forest health. It MAY save energy and certainly saves money for you or your firm. We need to balance the needs to have printed materials with ecological and cost concerns. Just do the right thing for the right reasons.

This brings me to what made me think about this. In the Atlanta airport I saw the machine pictured above. This is plain stupid. It purports to be environmentally benign but it making at least three big mistakes. It saves paper, which is not needed. To do that it USES energy. Beyond that, it puts in each bathroom a piece of complicated electronics that inevitably requires maintenance. Whoever bought this made a mistake from the environmental point of view, although probably not from the PR perspective. Many people see something like this and feel much better about wiping their hands. Many of these people will probably put some "save the trees" message on their email.

Posted by Christine & John at November 9, 2012 8:57 PM
Comments
Comment #356885

Part of the device’s appeal is that it cuts down waste that needs to be disposed. It’s not always just about what goes in but what comes out. But that being said I grow tired of fads like the save a trees thing.

I’m a fairly strict vegetarian so I end up doing a lot of my shopping a so-called “health food stores” to get animal free products such as meat replacements, imitation mayo and cheese, etc. But these places are nothing more than a warehouse to house one scammy product after another whether it’s “organic” foods, or “alternative medicines” and so on.

It’s OK though. We can replace cheap corn syrup with equal amounts of “natural” sugars and then it’s all OK. We can eat fatty chips and cookies that are better for you because they use “better oils” and “natural ingredients.” When that all fails to prevent us from growing rotund and lazy and smug we can swallow the urine of pregnant ladies to magically help us lose weight in conjunction of course with a 500 calorie diet just in case magic isn’t real.

But I digress. They won’t give you but one paper bag at a time to save the trees and they prefer you instead to buy re-usable sacks that most people pitch in the back of the car and then forget to bring back to the store wasting everyone’s money and energy. But I’m not bitter…

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 10, 2012 8:45 AM
Comment #356886

I thought at first the device was one of those air dryers. I guess the device you picture uses some form of paper? Or what? I can’t tell. Lately in airports I’ve seen those super dryers from Dyson that dry your hands in like 10 seconds.

Posted by: Adam Ducker at November 10, 2012 8:47 AM
Comment #356897

Adam

I always use the sacks I bought back in the 1990s from Giant. They are some kind of plastic recycled and strong as polished steel. One one has ripped in the more than ten years I had them. I don’t use them to save trees (I don’t think they would) but rather because each one hold six two litre bottles of Coke Zero, among other things. You can really pack them full and carry a lot and they won’t break. They don’t sell them anymore. Now they have smaller bags that hold much less. Don’t know why.

Re the machine - it gives out paper towels when you pass your hand close. I like the Dyson driers, BTW. When I have a meeting in my office, I like to wash my hands and I am always afraid they will still be damp. With Dyson, no worries. If I don’t have a meeting, I just dry my hands on my stubby hair. Cools the head. It is one advantage to being folliclely challenged.

Posted by: C&J at November 10, 2012 7:30 PM
Comment #356901

1) Paper costs money. Saving on paper saves on expenses.
2) Paper is a number one component of landfills. Do we really need those to be getting more full at a faster rate?
3) Energy does not necessarily have to come from sources that pollute.
4) Paper isn’t merely wood pulp, there’s a lot of what’s called rag content, essentially shredded fabric, there’s the bleaching process to get it that nice white color.

So on and so forth. You oversimplify too much.

For my part, I tend to re-use stuff that I print out, for one reason or another, as scrap paper, and when I can, at work, I don’t print things out, I often take photos with my iPhone. I also own both regular books and an e-book reader, which I like to call my book of books. I can store a whole library’s worth of books, a bookshelf at minimal energy cost. I wouldn’t think it takes that much juice to charge up a cell phone battery, or an e-reader.

By buying those books as electronic files, I save all the energy that went into printing, binding, and gluing together that book.

Long story short, while I don’t object to paper per se, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t conserve what we got, making less trash, creating less pollution from paper mills, and ultimately lowering the demand for paper in general, which keeps its price low.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 10, 2012 7:53 PM
Comment #356911

Stephen

I am making the one point I am sure of. Saving paper does not save trees. Your points are also valid and in fact I did address them in the body of the post.

The other point is that the wood that goes into paper is a valuable help to forest landowners to let them practice good conservation. Otherwise, many cannot afford to thin their forests, which leads to beetles, fires and destruction of trees.

The other permutation is that it costs taxpayers if there is no paper revenue. The state steps in the subsidize thinning in an attempt to keep beetles etc from proliferating. If there is a market for pulp, landowners make money by selling the stuff. Jobs are created for the cutters and the taxes are paid instead of consumed.

Posted by: C&J at November 10, 2012 8:47 PM
Comment #356913

C&J,
Good post, you certainly are the expert here so I cannot argue too much with your claim. However, I do seek additional clarification:
How did forests survive before humans began regular harvests? I assume regular forest fires did the trick; so is your point that it is better to harvest rather than burn those trees because we at least will manage to extract valuable resources?

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 10, 2012 10:06 PM
Comment #356916

Warped

Nature doesn’t have a goal. The current state of nature is the result of billions of interactions. We call it natural because it is the result, but it is only one of many possible results.

Natural doesn’t care if it takes thousands of years for a forest to grow. We do.

If humans were not in the world, it would not matter what happened. Nature would take care of itself. Some things would prosper; other disappear.

But we humans are here. We prefer healthy forests and productive nature. It is the only way that we can create sustainability for ourselves. Natural systems tend NOT to be sustainable. They progress through a system of collapse and destruction. We say it is “natural” what we would find appalling wasteful if done by humans.

I would reiterate the bold statement that man is the measure of all things. Nature doesn’t have an opinion. When almost all life was destroyed at the end of the Paleozoic, nature was unperturbed. When life flourished during the Mesozoic, nature didn’t celebrate and when many of those species died out …

We can do better than nature in producing results we find good. I can grow more wood faster on my land than nature would on its own. Of course, nature doesn’t care how much wood is produced; we do. As far as nature is concerned, lots of thriving pine beetles are as good as lots of thriving pine trees. We don’t agree.

Posted by: C&J at November 10, 2012 10:23 PM
Comment #356919

You make some good points, but this caught my eye:

We can do better than nature in producing results we find good.

To me, it appears that the ecological systems and economic systems share many of the same characteristics of complex interdependent parts. (It is not a coincidence that both words begin with eco-). So can we exploit these similarities to draw parallels between the two systems? For instance, you are basically saying that humans should be the masters of ecological systems. However, this is essentially advocacy in favor of centralized planning, or is there a distinction between economic and ecological systems that I am missing? Both systems are complex (not complicated) and any central planner will inevitably suffer from information problems.

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 10, 2012 11:16 PM
Comment #356932

C&J “We can do better than nature in producing results we find good. I can grow more wood faster on my land than nature would on its own. Of course, nature doesn’t care how much wood is produced; we do. As far as nature is concerned, lots of thriving pine beetles are as good as lots of thriving pine trees.”
This is a major flaw in human thinking and character. That ‘WE’ are God. Can you prove without a doubt that nothing in nature cares what is done to it? Primates? Whales? Dolphins? Any living thing that moves away from someone/thing causing it injury? How is this a lack of care? A mother moving it’s young out of the path of a flood or fire? Small birds chasing off larger ones? There are innumerable examples that show where Nature does care what happens. Even plants move to face the sunlight to gain the energy for growth and change their internal chemistry so the cells do not burst during the winter months. While this is an adaptation over generations if it did not occur there would be no plants, etc.
So what if it does not meet the human need of caring - it meets that creatures/plants level/need for or ability to care.
Also PLEASE keep in mind how interconnected the forest eco-system is from the top down. If you have never been to an area that has been logged you ought to check it out some time. In fact, I recomment taking photos over several months and years, documenting what wildlife you see at first just so you get a true understanding on how much it really changes the landscape and ecosystem. In fact I have hundreds of acres around me right now that are in that process right now and that would give me a fun project. Hopefully I don’t get an arse full of buckshot in he process….

Posted by: Kathryn at November 11, 2012 9:49 AM
Comment #356934

Warped

I have thought a lot about the subject as you mention. I agree that economy and ecology are analogous in many respects and we do indeed get much more from the economy by creating intelligent structures. A free market requires government, rule of law and reasonable regulation. Without them, we have chaos. We need to balance between tyranny and anarchy in politics, economics and ecology.

Let me take my forestry analogy to government economic plan.

I plant the trees and create general conditions that help them grow. In this I manage nature. But I do this by understanding natural process and working within the parameters. For example, I choose the pine species because those are best suited to the soils and conditions. I plant loblolly pine. If I lived farther west and north I would go with white pine. South might work with cypress or long leaf. In the mountains they grow tulip. You get the point. We have choices, but they are limited.

The other thing to recall is that almost everything that goes on - what we might call management - is not done by me. The trees grow in their way. I cannot do much to change that.

So my view of government might be analogous to that watchmaker God, with a few interventions. Create conditions by which the people can prosper. Do the big things they cannot, but generally do not interfere day-to-day. I can leave my forest alone for a long time. It takes care of itself and develop in its own way. The same goes for our political process, or it least it should.

IMO, our political leaders often try to do the equivalent of planting banana trees in North Dakota. It CAN be done, but it is not worth it.

So in almost all things, we have choices, but those choices are constrained. If we understand and work with the systems - ecological, economic, social - go with the grain. We can do great things WITHIN the constraints. We can do little when we try to push too far.

To your precise question - central planning BUT with a very light touch. Give general directions but not precise management and don’t try to do things that are outside the system’s nature. Use the market mechanism to achieve your goals. Don’t fight it. Take advantage of the innovation and imagination of others and generally let them get on with it. Do the things you do very well, but do fewer of them.

BTW - I like the recognition of the difference between complex and complicated. You are one of the few here who seems to get it. Your comment about planners’ information is also good. Planner suffer from ignorance and inability to get understand the complexity. That does not mean they do nothing. I understand only a small % of what goes on on my farms, but I can still make decisions as long as I let things go mostly by themselves.

Posted by: C&J at November 11, 2012 9:52 AM
Comment #356938

Kathryn

Re taking photos - I have done them. You can see some of them below. I have linked to photos of forests in Virginia after clear cuts. You can also see my blog posts about ecology at these links. http://johnsonmatel.com/blog1/forestryecology and http://johnsonmatel.com/blog1/forestryecology1

re “If you have never been to an area that has been logged you ought to check it out some time.” I have been in areas that I have logged. I have studied the results. Within a year it is a great habitat for quail and small animals. The deer love it. Within a few years it is again forest.

Please look at the picture at this link. This is one of my “clear cuts” six years later. http://johnsonmatel.com/2012/10_October/USA_trip/CP_SR_623.jpg

This is a clear cut sixteen years later; two years after a thinning that took out half the trees. http://johnsonmatel.com/2012/10_October/USA_trip/Freeman_food_plot.jpg

This one is twenty-eight years old. The area in front is a food plot. We plant that with crops for the wildlife to eat. When we harvest the trees, this is the area we use to stack the timber. This plot has been clear cut (all the trees removed)twice in the last fifty years. The trees you see in the picture have been thinned twice. http://johnsonmatel.com/2012/10_October/USA_trip/New_forest_food_plot.jpg

These are 17 year old trees. There was a big fire here two years before the picture was taken. The ferns you see on the ground we call fire ferns. They grow in thick like that after a big fire. http://johnsonmatel.com/2009/August/Forestry_Aug_26/Fireferns.jpg

All the world is in constant transition. We cannot maintain things as they are; we can only work with the dynamism.

Let me add one more picture. This is one of our stream management zones. We do not cut near the water. These are big beech trees. I love them and protect them. http://johnsonmatel.com/2011/June/forestry/Beechwood.jpg

Posted by: C&J at November 11, 2012 10:18 AM
Comment #356939

Kathryn

BTW - if you come to Virginia when I am around, I would be happy to show you the complete ecological cycle. We are very proud of our work and we like to explain it, since few people understand what we do. Our farms have a lot of timber we never touch, near streams etc. We have created meadows for wildlife. Our water runs clear. We have lots of diversity and corridors. But we also take off timber AND grow it back.

Posted by: C&J at November 11, 2012 10:29 AM
Comment #356940

This and the goat topic are far more healthier political reality avoidance tactics than drinking I suppose.

Posted by: LibRick at November 11, 2012 10:36 AM
Comment #356941

LibRick

I want to lay off Obama for a while, give him the benefit of some time, see what he is going to do. I have nothing useful to say about it at this time, so I am indulging other interests. I expect we will soon have other things to talk about.

Posted by: C&J at November 11, 2012 11:17 AM
Comment #356942
central planning BUT with a very light touch

In that case, I do not think there is anyone who disagrees with you. However, where we do disagree is whether particular government actions can be considered to be “with a light touch” or not. In particular, I have read many conservatism of the Obama Administration’s economic policies that seem to equivocate the policies of 2008 to present with policies from the 1970s or even policies from the Warsaw Pact. Maybe it is my youthful naivete, but I really have trouble grasping why conservatives freaked out so much. Cap & Trade, the PPACA & the stimulus were all designed to utilize free market mechanisms, yet the Tea Party made it seem like these were all harbingers of Stalinism.

I guess you can argue that particular debacles such as Solyndra can be said to be akin to growing bananas in North Dakota, but that example was atypical when one looks at the greater context. The vast majority of the loans ended up going to successful businesses. In any case, I can see why it would be preferable for the government to get out of the venture capitalist business, the problem is that there is no viable alternative way to mitigate anthropogenic global warming. Cap & Trade offered a superior method that worked with the free market; a carbon tax would have been even better. However, conservative intransigence has prevented either solution from proceeding.

At this rate, I am convinced that the Republican Party is the one that actually supports a greater amount of central planning in our economy. They might wrap their ideas in the guise of free market liberalism, but the end result is very different. The actual central planning might occur in a corporate board room rather than a government office in DC, but the result is the same. For instance, with regards to energy policy, the GOP clearly wants to anoint fossil fuels as the winner and make it difficult for alternatives to compete. Natural gas may well be the winner, but it is impossible to tell at this point because there are many external costs not reflected in its nominal price. If one extracts a resource, one must be financially responsible for the environmental effects of one’s actions. Contemporary conservatism seems to advocate that people abdicate these personal responsibilities and to merely spill the problems onto the public’s lap.

I look around at my nation and I see crumbling infrastructure everywhere. Infrastructure that took nearly a century to create. And I’m not talking about just physical infrastructure, I am talking about human infrastructure as well. Europe, Asia and elsewhere are investing whereas we are merely consuming. I find this troubling and I believe we need to find a solution to this problem.

I like the recognition of the difference between complex and complicated. You are one of the few here who seems to get it. Your comment about planners’ information is also good. Planner suffer from ignorance and inability to get understand the complexity. That does not mean they do nothing. I understand only a small % of what goes on on my farms, but I can still make decisions as long as I let things go mostly by themselves.
Knowledge of these are things is essential for any meteorologist. Meteorologists are always dearth for more data regarding current conditions. This is especially true for more remote areas such as the middle of the ocean as well as the upper atmosphere. We have tricks to compensate, but they are always inferior solutions. The initialization step of any computer model is the most important step that requires the greatest amount of thought. It must be able to adapt to missing/late information on an as-needed basis.

The atmosphere is a quintessential example of a complex (not complicated) system. The atmosphere is also unique because technically every single process that occurs seems to be predictable. Every interaction between air molecules, water vapor, etc is governed by a surprising small set of physical laws. Basically, all you need to do is conserve momentum, energy and mass fluxes and you should theoretically be able to predict the weather forever. However, there are so many feedback loops and other interactions that this otherwise complicated system becomes complex. It was while studying the atmosphere that Edward Lorenz made a great deal of progress in formulating what we know as chaos theory.

The atmosphere is unique because it is the only complex system that is actively and publicly modeled on a daily basis. Private firms model the economy, but their models are strictly confidential, whereas computer models from NOAA and their counterparts in the US military, Canada, Europe and Japan are available every day. These models attempt to turn the complex problem of forecasting into a complicated one and they do a fair job for about a week before they go completely nuts. This means that a contemporary forecaster’s job is not to merely parrot whatever the models happen to output. A competent meteorologist must be cognizant of what is going on at all times and continually ask himself “does this make sense?”, “why does model A say X whereas model B says Y?” and perhaps most importantly, “how certain is model A when it says X?”. Because meteologists’ predictions are either invalidated or validated s frequently, the entire field is forced to take extreme measures to understand the level of uncertainty in their model outputs. I believe Nate Silver devoted a portion of his book to this very topic, from which I’ve read an excerpt in the New York Times.

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 11, 2012 11:30 AM
Comment #356945

Warped

I thought cap and trade was okay. It should be done cleanly, however, i.e. don’t try to favor particular groups or industries. This is very hard for politicians to do.

Re solyndra - I do not believe government should invest in any particular firms, period. This is the micro-management i fear. Government bureaucrats are almost uniquely unsuited to investing in the free market - with their steady jobs, secure pensions etc, they have no personal concept of risk. Politicians are biased. They have incentives to reward and punish politically.

Re government as venture capitalist - we don’t need it. Get the incentive right and the market will do the rest. Government has a strong role to play in basic research but no business in business.

Government direct investments will not hasten solutions and may slow them.

Re infrastructure - government has this task AND used to do it better when it was smaller. This is the paradox. I would also say that compared to others, we are doing well. Others talk more but I have seen their results.

We, for example, have the world’s best freight rail system. Our inland waterways are also the best. Our higher education system is superb and our system of community colleges is flexible enough to train the workforce of the future. We have lots of challenges, but we are doing well. Let’s not mistake the fact that others are finally catching up with the idea that we are declining. We are like a slightly out of shape champion athlete.

Re the atmosphere - I agree. But what do we do about it? America’s CO2 emissions have dropped and will continue to drop. The problem today is China, which will produce more CO2 in 2020 than the whole world did in 1990.

Posted by: C&J at November 11, 2012 12:13 PM
Comment #356949
I thought cap and trade was okay. It should be done cleanly, however, i.e. don’t try to favor particular groups or industries. This is very hard for politicians to do.

A “clean” cap & trade or even a carbon tax are not possible when the dominant opinion on the Right is outright denial of reality. Remember, the GOP reaction to the Waxman-Markey bill was outright rejection of the whole bill on the premise that any action to mitigate climate change would amount to a net harm to the economy. Barney Frank said it best at the time when he told a tea party activist that he would’ve been better off arguing with a dinning room table than with her.

Over the past four years, we have witnessed a total collapse of bipartisanship, and I have to admit that the blame rests mostly on the right. The Tea Party did a real disservice to the conservative movement and the consequences of that damage will play out over the coming years.

Re solyndra - I do not believe government should invest in any particular firms, period. This is the micro-management i fear. Government bureaucrats are almost uniquely unsuited to investing in the free market - with their steady jobs, secure pensions etc, they have no personal concept of risk. Politicians are biased. They have incentives to reward and punish politically.

Re government as venture capitalist - we don’t need it. Get the incentive right and the market will do the rest. Government has a strong role to play in basic research but no business in business.

Government direct investments will not hasten solutions and may slow them.


I agree that we’d be better off without these sorts of government investments. You and I disagree whether or nor these poor solution are the lesser evil when compared to no solutions, but that should not matter because a clearly superior solution (carbon tax or Cap/Trade) is at hand. The barrier to the ideal solution does not come from the Left, that barrier is a product of the conservative universe where defunct ideas echo about without end.
Re infrastructure - government has this task AND used to do it better when it was smaller. This is the paradox. I would also say that compared to others, we are doing well. Others talk more but I have seen their results.

We, for example, have the world’s best freight rail system. Our inland waterways are also the best. Our higher education system is superb and our system of community colleges is flexible enough to train the workforce of the future. We have lots of challenges, but we are doing well. Let’s not mistake the fact that others are finally catching up with the idea that we are declining. We are like a slightly out of shape champion athlete.

I agree that we are faced with a contradiction. We must simultaneously increase government in some areas while reducing its size in others. Monotonic proposals to grow or shrink government are not what we need right now. So far, today’s Republican party cannot seem to support anything that doesn’t lead to a monotonic decrease in government spending and taxation (defense spending exempted), whereas the Democrats have at least showing a willingness to be flexible and balanced in their approach. I guess we’ll see if I am right in the coming years.

I have not had the opportunity to travel overseas much, but I have been exposed to a great number of foreign students over the past four years and I observe that certain things are consistently superior over there. My European peers were definitely better prepared than I was for certain classes that we took together and they excelled where I struggled. They also remarked that the internet back home was much faster and that they never lost power in a storm because electrical infrastructure was underground.

America’s CO2 emissions have dropped and will continue to drop. The problem today is China, which will produce more CO2 in 2020 than the whole world did in 1990.
It is certainly good news that our CO2 emissions are down. Hopefully the trend will continue quickly enough. Regarding China, obviously the best situation would be a complete liberalization of their economy, but that would undoubtedly require regime change, which is unlikely for the moment. Our second best bet is that the Chinese authorities recognize that the threat is serious and that their own economic future will be hampered if they try to cheat the entire globe’s climate. It may be that the US might have to apply a few sticks in addition to the carrots we provide. Today, we are fortunate to have a vastly superior military force parked right along China’s doorstep so our opinions still mean quite a bit to the Chinese Leadership. As our economies become more interconnected as globalization intensifies, this will only become more true. Posted by: Warped Reality at November 11, 2012 2:27 PM
Comment #356950

Warped

Obama won the election. He can push this. If he had prioritized this the ahead of the stimulus or Obamacare, it would have been done.

I worry about details. It should be a straight tax on carbon emissions, no adjustments or exceptions, no complaints that it “hurts the poor” or that special groups should be exempt or rebated.

Re Solyndra investments - I don’t think they are lesser evils, just evils. Had the government investment worked, we would be stuck with a technology that was not as good.

DESPITE Obama policies, not because of them, solar cells are becoming so cheap that they are almost free. The problem with solar is the cost of installation and maintenance. These costs probably go up, not down, since they are based on labor costs.

Re government investments - Republicans long supported such things more than Democrats. I have been thinking about when this changes. It didn’t. What Republicans dislike are transfer payments and social engineering. This is one big reason conservatism rose in the 1970s.

This is a difficult subject. Government intervention was probably necessary to end racial discrimination. But the method employed was a mistake. As this spread to other programs, government became unworkable for too many things.

Discrimination is mostly gone. I hope the instruments will now go too. But entrenched special interests make much money off of them.

Re your foreign friends - the ones that come over to the U.S. are better than the ones that stay home. It is hard to come to the U.S. If you go to the UK, you will see that much of their TV sucks. We think it is good, because we see the Masterpiece Theater quality products. The same goes for people. We Americans, unfortunately, export as much crap TV as good stuff. We aim at a mass (and dumb) market.

They come, BTW, because our universities are so much better. Harvard, for example, devotes more money to education than the whole country of France.

Power and internet go out in Europe too, BTW. And they cost more in most places. People forget these things.

Re China - I doubt we can influence them much on this. They talk a good game, but results are different. I would point out that most counties are better at talking about their good works; we are better at doing them.

BTW - some people excused others by saying that we Americans had to set the example. Our emission have dropped more than anyone else’s over the past five years. Where are the others now?

Posted by: C&J at November 11, 2012 3:17 PM
Comment #356952

C&J Then you haven’t seen the way they hack things around here. I’ll take a walk around with the camera tomorrow. Management isn’t a concept for many. Their idea of reforestation is to let it reseed on its own or sucker from the stumps left behind. Only the big companies actually replant seedlings it seems.

Posted by: Kathryn at November 11, 2012 7:31 PM
Comment #356953

Kathryn

A clear cut is always ugly. But it is not the end of the forest, just another stage. A clear cut a year later is very rich in wildlife. We hate to walk around because there are lots of brambles. But the bobwhite quail love this environment.

This is probably something like you are talking about. This is clear cut plus three years http://johnsonmatel.com/virginiaforest_files/image002.jpg sorry about the size. Back then, digital cameras were not so good. If you look closely, you can see the piles of forest waste. They leave that laying around. It rots and fertilizes. It would be very bad to take this stuff off. In fact, there is some threat now that this waste could be chipped and used as fuel. It would leave a much neater looking tract, but it would take away some fertility.

This is the same place now, seven years later, me in the front. I am 6’1”, so you can compare the size. http://johnsonmatel.com/2012/10_October/USA_trip/CP_trees.jpg

Sometimes you want to let the place reseed by itself, BTW, or grow back from suckers. This can be a good forestry practice. If you are harvesting tulip poplar, for example, you almost always want to let it grow back from the stumps. They already have an intact root system and grow much faster. Pines will not grow from stumps. They have to reseed or be replanted. We usually replant because we have better genetics. If the people you know are not replanting,they evidently think the other methods are better.

Posted by: C&J at November 11, 2012 9:09 PM
Comment #356954

Kathryn

Let me show you two more. These are pictures of my longleaf experiment. Longleaf pine was once common in the South. Today not so much because it is hard to grow. It requires fire periodically. We cut and burned five acres. My liberal friends will be happy to know that this cost us money and it will never pay off commercially. But if you look at the pictures you will see it looks very ugly. But in ten years it will be a vigorous young stand and thirty years from now people will bring their kids to see it.
http://johnsonmatel.com/2011/November/Various/burning_for_Longleaf.jpg
http://johnsonmatel.com/2012/5_May/Forestry2/Blank_land.jpg

I would also point out re original post that nobody clear cuts old timber to make paper. It is just not worth it.

Posted by: C&J at November 11, 2012 9:24 PM
Comment #356968

C&J,

Thank you for sharing the photographs. It is amazing how resilient the forest ecosystem is. It reminds me of old photographs of my hometown in Massachusetts. From the 17th century through the 1940s, the entire landscape was clear cut in order to facilitate agriculture. As soon as land use switched to primarily suburban residences, the forests came back rapidly. Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to discern the difference between this new growth and the remaining pockets of virgin forest.

Regarding your response to my earlier points, I think you are mostly right, and our remaining sources of disagreement amount to mere partisianship. Your point about my foreign friends was especially relevant.

Posted by: Warped Reality at November 12, 2012 9:55 AM
Comment #356994

Warped

The pictures do tell a story. I have been watching this stuff for a long time now. Earth really is not as fragile as we like to say it is. Of course, we have to work within the system, as discussed above, in economic & ecology.

Posted by: C&J at November 12, 2012 9:47 PM
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