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The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Time to Change the Narrative

It's been a nice year for my friends and clients in the wood products industry. After a slow start, all the companies I visited this year and work with realized a great year, with many of them recording record or near-record revenues. In order to stay apolitical, I won't say anything other than a pro-business, pro-consumer agenda by our country's administration always seems to perk up the economy, and especially the fortunes of those making wood. Go figure.

So I was going to Go Wood peacefully into the night, and let 2017 pass without further commentary. But a couple of items in my news feed tell me...ok, just one more post.

First was this nice piece from the New England Forestry Foundation entitled "NEFF Takes on Climate Change." It's another of those uplifting PC pieces that tell the world how Organization X, Y, or Z, is doing it's part to fight the end of the world that's being brought on by excess carbon dioxide emissions from cars, power plants, cows, too many people, or whatever other menace that particular organization would like to eliminate.
"Massive fires across the west. Three major hurricanes striking the United States in quick succession, including the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded. The first of the three—Hurricane Harvey—dropped 19 trillion gallons of water on Texas. To give a sense of scale, that would be enough water to raise the level of all of the Great Lakes by a foot.
As scientists have long predicted, climate change is driving greater extremes in our weather. And trees, a symbol of stability due to their long lives and durability, are both vulnerable in the face of climate change, and help to protect New Englanders from its worst impacts at the same time."
New England Forestry Foundation is working to address climate change with a three-pronged, tree-friendly effort:
  • We’re working to make sure that forests are put to work in the best possible way to minimize the extent and impacts of climate change,
  • We’re working to pilot the best approaches to addressing climate change on our own lands, and
  • We’re trying to make sure forest landowners have the information they need to manage their forests well in the face of climate change.

I don't blame NEFF for jumping on the bandwagon. Tree growers have a great story to tell, and if framing it in the setting of a apocalyptic nightmare gets people to listen, then great. Whatever.

But the worm on climate change is turning. Also this morning I ran across this story...
Climate change science implodes as IPCC climate models found to be “totally wrong” … temperatures aren’t rising as predicted … hoax unraveling
Now, I didn't come across this article on CNN or ABC, so you may dismiss it as just so much more "fake news" if you so desire. I never even heard of the "Natural News" before seeing this article. But I have checked out the facts, and they are as Natural News report them to be, although you have to read the source paper very carefully to reach the same conclusions that the Natural News author did.

The paper's authors, all members of the International Panel on Climate Change, matter-of-factly report a new calculation of carbon budgets based on a projected goal of keeping global warming to less that 1.5 degrees C by the year 2100, and use their calculations to call for and justify a re-strengthening of countries' commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They fail to mention that a 1.5 degree C increase was forecasted in the last IPCC assessment by the year 2022, not 2100. Thus, readers like the Natural News author naturally take note of the moving target and begin to look more closely at the science which produces those targets.

Both papers are long but very enlightening reads, well worth the time if you want to understand why there is so much contradiction in the scientific community. But, if you don't really care, well...good for you. Go out and enjoy 2018 and continue to make even more money off of your carbon-dioxide producing activities.

But let's give up that narrative about saving the world through our use of trees. How about articles like this instead...
"Go Wood Takes on Starvation"
"As scientists have long known, unwise constraint of natural production systems that feed, house, and clothe human beings has an adverse effect on the planet. People that lose jobs due to economic inactivity from forced regulatory constraints tend to be grouchy and do bad things. Therefore, the members of Go Wood are eager to address starvation and its negative consequences on the environment with a three-pronged, wood-friendly effort: 

    • We’re working to make sure that forests and factories are put to work in the best possible way to minimize the extent and impacts of mill shutdowns,
    • We’re working to pilot the best approaches to addressing inefficient production on our own lands and in our plants, and
    • We’re trying to make sure forest landowners and wood products companies have the information they need to manage their resources well in the face of market opportunities."

There, now...maybe not as intimidating as climate change apocalypse, but something more people can relate to. A job means meat on the table. And if it is in fact 1.5 degree C hotter in 2100, we'll just have to live with it.

In the meantime, enjoy 2018, and Go Wood.