Monday, November 20, 2006

Good environmental news

Man, I wish there was more good environmental news, but it just seems as though society is designed to exploit their surroundings to excess. This ultimately has lead to the demise of many societies, as in the main thesis of A Brief History of Progress by Ronald Wright.
When I hear good environmental news it actually gives me pause to think that this modern world with unprecedented population density can actually dig itself out of these problems one at a time through science and technology, and sound policy. The most memorable good environmental news for me includes the saving of Clayquot Sound in BC, and the Montreal Protocol banning CFCs.
So when I heard that "tree stock has increased in 22 of the world’s 50 most densely forested countries" I was pretty impressed. I don't know much about how these things are analyzed, however, if by any method this is true, I'm still impressed. The analysis showing a slightly optimistic view of the state of the forest was published in PNAS.
Don't get too excited, of course, forests are still dwindling on a global scale. Interestingly in the article, Canada is not doing that well compared to countries with similar GDP. But surprisingly has a zero net forest loss, and apparently this statistic accounts for size of trees ect. As a primary resource country that is somewhat impressive.
PS I'm still going to enforce recycling in the bay like a fanatic.


Bayman said...

Wow that PNAS paper is pretty misleading, emphasizing only the countries in which tree stock has increased. Like you point out, forests are still dwindling on a global scale, all that's happening is that multi-national companies are moving the clear-cutting to poorer countries rather than richer ones. The paper actually shows that while tree stock has increased in all high-GDP/capita countries, it has decreased in the majority of poorer countries. From a nationalistic point of view, it's been great that activism has been succesful and we now have great quality of life and high environmental protection in countries like Canada. From a global point of view, the tragedy is that activist movements like environtmentalism haven't really changed anything, since they only exist and affect government actions in rich countries. The result has been that multi-national corporations quietly move operations like manufacturing and resource harvesting etc., to the most unstable and impoverished countries where they can get away with whatever environmental or human rights crimes they want. I guess the bottom line is that we need to avoid being lulled into a false sense of security when we see things getting better within our own country and remember that in today's world and increasingly in the future conservation and protectionism will only be effective through a concerted, global effort. Global initiatives like the Kyoto accord are great but only if they are truly global, otherwise they just become a tool for rich countries to economically exploit and resource-deplete the poor. Kind of like the Conservative government is doing right now, staying in the talks and sabotaging anything that might actually be environementally productive.......

Rob said...

awesome job on the formatting of comments dude.
Also another problem with the paper is.. do you believe that China is actually decreasing deforestation? or do they just cook the books to look good? I dunno.

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