Click to embiggen. At UMass-Amherst, I recall a professor (a one Mr. Dr. Jack Ahern) showing us Massachusetts was deforested not once or twice, but four times in its near 400 year history. Now it’s one of the most forested states (yep!).
Amazing photos of vintage logging industry in the Redwood Forests of California via U of C
Any image of deforestation is synonymous with the construction of contemporary metropolises. What’s most profound about the industrial moguls of the 19th century is that even though they were fierce in the utilization of natural resources that led to a catastrophic decline, they recognized the need for conservation practices and restorative developments.
The Pinchots, millionaires from the wallpaper industry, pushed their son Gifford into forestry. What started as an investment in an industry led to conservation of natural resources, support for academic programs, and further development of infrastructure in the United States. The US Forest Service gave us telephone poles, railroad ties, land for grazing livestock, and timber to fuel construction for modern life.
Yes, it is a tragedy that natural history was destroyed by old logging practices. But we’re lucky enough to be living in an age where more people are understanding the limitations of our landscape. The thing we need to work on now is our frivolous consumption (ie: disposable goods).
Seeing a living organism of this size is just flabbergasting. As Richard Feynman reminded us recently, trees big and small grow out of the air. That’s about 98% right (they do need water and nutrients from the ground to complete their photosynthetic reactions).
But think about the sheer volume of carbon dioxide that a tree like this takes in over its lifetime! Think about the effect these have in balancing the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere! A 25-inch redwood can hold the equivalent of ONE TON of carbon dioxide. These trees are at least six times that diameter, and would have held orders of magnitude more than that. It’s called a “carbon sink”, and these would have been gold-medal winners in that event.
On one hand, it’s amazing to see an immobile living thing capable of growing to this size, over hundreds of years, felled by the humble tools of man. On the other hand, it’s tragic to see these Fort Knoxes of the carbon cycle laying useless on their side. Let’s keep this in the history books, and not in the current events pages.