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Writing Ruminations

Writing is such an internal process. Why not make those private ruminations public? This is how stories take shape and grow.

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Location: Happy Valley, Oregon, United States

I've been supporting myself as a writer for many years and am watching the changes in the publishing world with fascination. For me, sharing the craft, teaching, is as creatively satisfying as the writing process itself.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Trees Are Coming!

All right, I can’t stand it. Turn on the radio, hoping for a ray of sunshine from the weather guy, maybe duck yet another report of vitriolic Clinton-Obama sparring, and what do I get? A bit about bottled water shipped to the US from Fiji. And you know what? They are planting so many trees that the plastic bottles, shipped 9000 miles or so are carbon negative! Wow, drink up. But wait, now I’m remembering those automobile manufacturers who promise that they’re planting enough trees for every gas guzzling, pollution belching SUV they sell to make their cars carbon neutral, at least for a couple of years (and then you’ll sell it and buy a new carbon neutral model, right?) And what about all those other companies and clubs and schools and suburban SUV owners paying to plant trees and thus become carbon neutral and guilt free. My gosh…I have this image of every square meter of the planet bristling with densely planted forests.

You know, these are great numbers. What do people think ‘planting a tree’ means? That this tree will grow up to a nice, healthy mature specimen and suck up that CO2? Obviously. What really happens? Bet you a bunch of low-pay laborers mostly range over all kinds of terrain with a pack full of 6 inch seedlings or rooted cuttings, chopping ‘em into the clay/sand/mud/ with one stroke of the mattock in their other hand. And then they move on. Because that’s all they’re getting paid to do.

I watched thousands of trees get planted along the Johnson Creek watershed. Made me shake my head as they were planted in dense shade where that species had no chance of survival, in open fields where the blackberries and tamarisk overgrew them long before they got taller than the grass. Deer ate a lot. Beaver ate some. A lot died because it was dry that summer and they were too small to survive without water. A very few have survived. Rough estimate? Maybe one in fifty? Maybe far less than that. What about that logged-over and eroded rainforest or parched savanna a few thousand miles away from the company happily shelling out to buy those ‘carbon credits’. How careful do you think those folk are? Maybe you have people selling ‘forests’ on the carbon market, planting the same 1000 acres over and over again because who really looks? I’d sure like to see a more realistic measure of carbon credit= planted tree. Right now it’s a very easy way to banish the guilt of that carbon footprint. I’m just not sure it’s very realistic.


Blogger CSInman said...

Good points. Besides, trees are not nearly as efficient in sucking up CO2 as some other plants. But you don't hear about plans to make lakes and fill them with blue-green algae. I guess the slimy, efficient plant is just not cute enough for commercials...

12:51 AM  

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