According to a 2014 US study, if humans grew like trees, after adolescence our growth rate would accelerate geometrically. By the time we retire, we'd be big as King Kong.
So, with that kind of exponential potential occurring naturally in our forests, why do we keep cutting our trees younger and younger? Why do we insist on shorter and shorter rotations? Let 'em grow 40 or 50 years, then cut 'em down. Witness the dwindling size of logs on all those big trucks hustling up and down our highways, burning up fuel like there's no tomorrow. At this rate, there probably won't be. Check out the startling Global Forest Watch maps showing Nova Scotia's devastating forest loss over the last decade. We are stealing from future generations! Why? To feed a heavily subsidized industry (arguably 10% of the provincial debt), reeling under bank loans incurred to buy bigger and bigger machinery so they can increase efficiency and eliminate more and more jobs. Crazy. We clearcut our forests then have to start them all over again from scratch. So we're not just cutting trees. We're also cutting our noses to spite our faces.
Why not let our mature trees grow, and harvest selectively? Why not shift the forest products industry to produce longer lasting value-added products, like hardwood flooring or laminated beams to replace steel in construction? Why not invest in the long term? Why not build employment and our rural economy by increasing the quality and quantity of our wood by working with nature instead of against her?
And while we're at it, though Mr. Trump may disagree, let's not forget this planet's biggest, most immediate problem, climate change. The US study proves that bigger, older trees as befits their size sequester way more carbon than spindly young ones. We cut young trees, some for lumber or pulp, but the rest for biomass under the illusion we're creating green energy. You know what happens when you burn trees? Not only do you release whatever carbon dioxide they may have pulled out of the atmosphere, you also kill forever their ability to sequester any more carbon. It's a double whammy.
So, let 'em grow and get bigger better wood, create jobs, help the economy, provide for future generations, and combat global warming, or cut 'em young, eliminate jobs, add to the provincial debt, and cut off at the knees the ability of our greatest renewable resource to fight climate change. That's our choice.
Time to ask ourselves some serious questions and set some new directions. We could, for example:
Tree growth just gets going at adolescence. If only one could say the same for human intelligence. Sometimes it seems like ours grinds to a halt.