Perhaps if Collin Levey spent a little less time reading the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and a little more time watching TV, she’d be better informed.
Oh, I’m not suggesting she tune in “Who Wants to Marry an Apprentice Survivor,” or whatever the latest hit reality show is (although that would probably still be more informative than the WSJ editorial page.) But if she was planning to write on federal forest management policies, she might have benefited from KCTS’s Tuesday airing of the NOVA episode “Fire Wars,” which chronicles the devastating 2000 forest fire season, and explains how a century of misguided fire suppression policy led to the monster fires we see today.
But no, just like the Bush administration, she prefers to base her opinions on political polemic rather than science. [It takes a tree-hugger to raze a forest]
So for Collin, the real culprit is the hoard of “downy youngsters with laptops chaining themselves to old-growth trees.” She finds this image so amusing she mentions it three times, and I admit it might have a satirical impact with readers if the image it parodied actually had any currency.
I’m an avid news-hound, and while I don’t doubt that somewhere in this great nation an idealistic, young environmentalist is protesting old-growth logging, I don’t recall a recent news story involving chains and laptops. (At least not related to forestry.)
I’m particularly leery of Collin’s tales of summer-camp-like tree sitting outings, with campers emailing home personal hygiene reports. It’s not the lack of showers that makes me suspicious — that’s consistent with my own overnight camp experience. It’s her obsession with laptops.
First of all, it can be hard enough configuring a WIFI network to extend 60 feet from the den to the living-room, let alone hundreds of miles deep into roadless, virgin forest. So it’s not like these purported young activists are passing the days browsing the internet.
Second, the average laptop is lucky to get 2 to 3 hours per charge, so unless these old growth stands happen to be strategically located near power outlets, I doubt these laptops are good for much more than protecting your lap from angry squirrels. In fact, harkening back to my own summer camp days, the only laptop I remember is that of a particularly odd counselor who always seemed a bit too fond of the younger boys.
I’m not saying Collin made this anecdote up; I’m sure she based it on something or other she read somewhere… before completely blowing it out of proportion. But as I’m too ethically rigid (i.e. cheap) to send a dime to the WSJ for the privilege of reading their editorial page slanders, I don’t usually have access to her primary source material.
In any case… there never is much subtext to Collin’s arguments, and this column struts the usual rhetorical cahones, branding Bill Clinton’s now-defunct road building ban “a giveaway.” A giveaway to whom? The American public who owns the national forests?
Calling it a “giveaway” implies that road building through virgin timber is somehow the natural state of affairs, but we’re talking about our national forests, not the interstate highway system. This isn’t the I-5 corridor, it’s the last 10% of old growth forest that once symbolized the Evergreen State.
Saving for future generations the few remaining patches of unspoiled wilderness is not a giveaway. A giveaway is subsidizing the logging industry by spending taxpayer dollars to build roads through virgin timber that would otherwise be uneconomical to cut.
By measuring forests in “board feet”, and attacking John Kerry for “sidling up to hunting and sportsmen groups,” it is clear that Collins idea of “more-localized accountability for the management of public lands” envisions our national forests as little more than the unfinished two-by-four section of Home Depot.
I understand Collin’s partisan zeal to reduce this issue to a fight between Democrats and the rest of us, but in so doing she dumbs down a complex debate that would best be decided by forestry experts rather than politicians, columnists and bloggers. It is convenient for her to blame the recent spate of fires on “hands-off” forestry policy, but she’s clearly spent little if any effort researching the issue.
If Collin really wants to understand the scientific and historical context of todays forestry practices, she should set her VCR for Saturday, July 17 at 2:00 AM, when KCTS rebroadcasts “Fire Wars.”
But I doubt she’s interested. See, the problem with science is that — unlike the WSJ editorial page — it doesn’t always tell you what you want to hear.