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Wooden headed

07 Oct 2020 | OP ED Watch

As we at CDN have observed frequently, and again h/t Thomas Sowell among others, a fundamental divide in debates on public policy, extending far beyond climate while including it, is between people who believe in tradeoffs and those who do not. And we who do have another told-you-so, in the form of Pierre Gosselin’s article about deforestation in Europe. Where, in the name of climate change they cut down trees, made birds homeless, created monoculture and patted themselves on the back so hard it hurt. Because wood is carbon-neutral, there has been massive cutting of forests right in their own countries to manufacture wood pellets to use in thermal power plants. And if some dumb bird was living in the forest, well, don’t worry, it probably flew into a wind turbine anyway.

As Gosselin notes, greenwoke Europeans like to deliver culturally imperialist lectures about deforestation in Third World countries while mowing down their own to save the planet. Too often in Europe, he warns, they have not thought about such things until the evidence becomes very disquieting. For instance, according to one German journalist who recently discussed the problem on German public broadcaster ARD, in her native Estonia there has been a tendency to harvest old-growth hardwoods and replace them with factory-farmed fir trees as though it made no difference, to the birds or anything else. But it does.

Of course trees grow back. And intelligent forest management can ensure abundant habitat; indeed absent wretched human beings, forest fires engage in forest management that not only fails to wipe out birds but, by creating moving “edge habitat” between new and old growth and between meadow and new growth, actually promotes biodiversity. But we’re only going to get intelligent forest management if we think intelligently about the conflicting requirements, the costs and benefits of different approaches, the, well, tradeoffs.

Ditto wind energy. It has benefits. Windmills do create power. And historically the non-electric kind were crucial to the superior prosperity and economic dynamism of Medieval Europe. (Yes, you read that right.) But windmills have lots of drawbacks, from massive footprint to unreliable generation to using strange minerals mined in troubling ways to killing wildlife without giving much in the way of habitat to anything except propaganda and delusion.

Gosselin notes that “Climate activists, including the media like ARD, have long insisted that burning trees was good for the climate and environment because the emitted CO2 would simply be recycled back into nature – ‘follow the science’ they insisted again and again. But they failed to understand that trees, depending on their age, acted as sinks and that some 100 years of stored carbon would be unloaded into the atmosphere in just a matter of hours if burned for heat.”

We say do follow the science. The real science. Including the economic science. Otherwise you’re going to do a lot of pious harm.

One comment on “Wooden headed”

  1. There is a huge push in BC to stop any cutting in any "old growth forests". What is good stewardship regarding this issue? Should we protest all activity of harvesting in "old growth forests"? If cutting is allowed will vast numbers of species become extinct?

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