Selling Out Public Lands to Big Timber: Good for Jon Tester, Bad for the Planet
Jon Tester is in the news this week, first making an appearance on CNN’s Crossfire where he was asked about economic populism on the left. Tester gave an essentially empty answer because that’s what politicians do.
The reason I suspect Tester is getting some cable news face time is the coming vote his forest bill will get this week:
Sen. Jon Tester’s bill authorizing more logging and more wilderness in Montana goes before a Senate committee review on Thursday, four years after it was introduced.
“This is the first time the bill has been voted on anywhere in Congress,” said Paul Spitler, wilderness campaign director for the Wilderness Society in Bozeman. “It’s a pretty important day for this legislation for it to see a vote.”
For some great context about the sausage making process of this legislation, John S. Adams has a great piece, titled Collaboration conundrum Wilderness advocates sharply divided on ‘consensus’ proposals:
At a June 8, 1997, gathering in Kalispell, former U.S. Forest Service Chief Jack Ward Thomas foretold a vision of the future for national forest management in Montana.
According to a newspaper account of Thomas’ address to the Montana Logging Association, President Bill Clinton’s former forest chief predicted a “golden decade of conservation” in which environmental groups and timber interests would work side by side to reach “consensus” on the future of management of federal forest land.
Thomas predicted those collaborative projects on the national forests would break down the barriers to logging on public lands and “marginalize extremists.”
“I don’t see any other game in town,” Thomas said in a report in the Daily Inter Lake.
Yes, the business of politics is a game that our two political teams play. The problem (as I see it) is the manner in which our species uses the planet’s finite resources is not a game; it’s a cancer that will one day render the earth we rely on to live uninhabitable.
That day may be much closer than the moderate climate scientists have claimed. Here’s an article from The Nation, titled The Coming ‘Instant Planetary Emergency’:
“We as a species have never experienced 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of evolutionary biology, natural resources, and ecology at the University of Arizona and a climate change expert of twenty-five years, told me. “We’ve never been on a planet with no Arctic ice, and we will hit the average of 400 ppm…within the next couple of years. At that time, we’ll also see the loss of Arctic ice in the summers.… This planet has not experienced an ice-free Arctic for at least the last three million years.”
For the uninitiated, in the simplest terms, here’s what an ice-free Arctic would mean when it comes to heating the planet: minus the reflective ice cover on Arctic waters, solar radiation would be absorbed, not reflected, by the Arctic Ocean. That would heat those waters, and hence the planet, further. This effect has the potential to change global weather patterns, vary the flow of winds, and even someday possibly alter the position of the jet stream. Polar jet streams are fast flowing rivers of wind positioned high in the earth’s atmosphere that push cold and warm air masses around, playing a critical role in determining the weather of our planet.
McPherson, who maintains the blog Nature Bats Last, added, “We’ve never been here as a species and the implications are truly dire and profound for our species and the rest of the living planet.”
Instead of seeing dead trees as an opportunity for timber companies, Jon Tester could explain that dead trees are a result of climate change, but we all know that will never happen. From the link:
The recent large-scale dieback of piñon (Pinus edulis Engelm.) and ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) and associated bark beetle outbreaks in the Southwestern United States has been linked to the ”climate change type drought” (e.g., dry and warm) that occurred in this region in the early 2000s. Several bark beetle species, including piñon ips (Ips confusus Leconte), Arizona fivespined ips (Ips lecontei Swaine) and the western pine beetle (Dendroctonus brevicomis LeConte), responded to the vast landscapes of drought-stressed trees, contributing significantly to the widespread tree mortality. Because elevated temperatures potentially influence the number of generations of these species reproducing in a single year, similar outbreaks could occur again as precipitation and temperature patterns continue to shift.
Instead, Jon Tester will shill for extractive industry because that is the path that will lead him toward re-election.
Too bad it’s also the path that’s leading us to an environmental crisis.