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TED Talk: Forests in USA are too dense, causing ecological disasters

 
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I never would have guessed. This video gives a compelling argument.

 
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It seems like monoculture and poor fire management practices are the problem here, more than "too many trees."  

The speaker makes some good points.  I cringe inwardly from the idea that we have "too many trees."  I don't think that sends the right message.  Don't most experts agree we have half as many trees as we should for current carbon levels worldwide??

But he made great points on needing different sorts of trees, controlled burns leading to spaces between fire-prone areas, and to NOT build in "fire trap" areas...

 
Matt Coston
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Lori Whit wrote:It seems like monoculture and poor fire management practices are the problem here, more than "too many trees."


This is literally what the video says. I suppose you're right that it would have been helpful for the speaker to stress that we still need more trees overall, but I think you've latched on to a throw-away comment in the video where he says "epidemic of trees", followed by literal laughter in the audience. I feel you're taking that comment too literally.
 
Lori Whit
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I tend to take things like this a bit literally, yes.  It makes me nervous because there are already so many people who think we need fewer trees in the world, and I don't want their confirmation bias to be all they take away from things like this.  People who think the answer is "chop down or burn all the trees in the area" aren't known for their subtle and reasoned approach to things.  That isn't an issue here, as I believe most people are generally thoughtful about holistic approaches to the world, and support more trees.  But yeah, it makes me nervous...and I don't think it's helpful even to imply.  
 
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We need healthy forests, not more trees per se. That will help with carbon sequestering, which is the 30,000 foot view and not the down on the forest floor view.

A case in point is the current situation in Maine where we lost our forest product industry. Maine has the most forest in the nation, and our growth is phenomenal. When we lost the ability to sell our forest products, many of us...my farm included, cannot sit around idly and wait for the trees to grow that have no value. With the cost of property taxes rising every year, the land must pay for itself. Because forests can no longer do that, I must convert it into something that does. As a farm, that naturally means clearing the forest and converting it to field.

I am not alone in this, in fact most of my neighbors are clearing land as well.

It is not that Maine does not have enough wood, we just grow too much wood. We need a way to market it so we can manage it properly. Now many of the laws that are on the books to ensure that happened, are null and void. The State is reeling, trying to recover, but the economics of land ownership are changing faster then they can manage it.
 
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This is also another outcome of one of the most powerful laws ever not written. The law of unintended consequences. Thanks to technology  demand for pulp is way down.  People get their news online not from newspapers. So no need for all that news print, so no need for those pulp logs. When people read books its often on their kindle so same result no need for pulp logs. Cities are passing laws against heating with wood.  Furniture manufacturing is too often done overseas with local (to them!) lumber.

We need to support our forest industries  by reading books and newspapers again. We also need to  heat our houses with firewood (I know of no terrorist attack funded by lumberjacks) and wood is carbon neutral  while oil , gas and electricity are not and when you have wood supply for winter its an uniteruptable source of heat.
And by all means try to buy quality wood furniture by local craftsmen. Oh and for gods sake buy real freaking christmas trees!!

 
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