Sunday, October 16, 2011


My friend Pete was bicycling down the coast last weekend and I picked him up in Eureka and toured around Northern California. It was nice to get an outsiders perspective of the area. The land was often a topic of our conversation as we identified past and present Redwood clear cuts. I was glad to hear a perspective from someone else on what has occurred and still occurs here. Often we would ask to no one in particular, "What would inspire someone to cut down 96% of the old growth Redwood forest?" Obviously, its all about the money, but still, what gives?

A few days ago I was in a park in Ft. Bragg, and was part of a conversation with a young man and his family. The man and his wife had immigrated from Mexico and were pushing their adorable little daughter in a tire swing. The man has been living in Ft. Bragg since 2002, and also happens to be a logger. I asked him if he drives the trucks, or cuts trees. "I cut the trees down," he responded. After seeing him with his beautiful wife and daughter, it struck me that this is probably ultimately what the man thinks about when he is cutting down the trees. His family.

Until we fix a system where a man must make his living consuming the land to provide for his family, there is little hope I'm afraid.


  1. That's what separates us from the animals. Where do you think houses come from?

  2. I'm sorry but isn't that "system" how humans have been surviving since Day 1??

  3. Michael, the "seperation" is where our thinking has been flawed in my opinion. I wonder if our survival as a species will be dependent on understanding that our connection with the natural world is something to strive for and celebrate, rather than to continue our perceived path of being seperated from it. Knowing that houses come from trees, should we not do everything in our power to limit the size of those houses, so we put less strain on our resources?

    Nicole, I don't know if that "system" is how humans have been surviving since day 1. It seems to me that there was a seperation that took place at some point in history, maybe it was when we gave up the hunter gatherer lifestyle for "civilization," when we decided to control and consume the natural world rather than live within its laws. Michael and I will never see eye to eye on this, we proved that many years ago in Colorado! I do enjoy the discussion though...

  4. Mark, I have to call you out on this. You're better than that statement. Do you think we're worse off today as a species than we were when people were scratching out an existence in the wild FIGHTING AGAINST nature for survival? Balance between man and nature is a fine goal, but not "consuming the land" is suicide. If we shouldn't "consume the land", I take it then you are an advocate of pruning the world's population in favor of "nature". You are OK with shorter life spans and higher infant mortality. You are OK with mass starvation. You are OK with mass death at the hands of preventable disease and infection. All of these things can be avoided only because we live in a modern society with modern medicine, modern transportation systems, modern shelter, modern irrigation, modern science, modern food distribution, etc. If that's not what you mean, what is it you want to get rid of, and what effect will it have on the world's people?

    You just spent several months on a trail. Could you conceive of yourself taking shelter, having enough to eat and raising a family out there without "consuming the land"? Without modern camping equipment, the Postal Service and the occasional stop in town for provisions, you wouldn't have made it just walking around out there, much less surviving.

    If you want to side with nature again man, you've lost me, especially if you profess to believe in God. God didn't put us here to dance around fires naked while proclaiming our love of Gaia. He put us here to love one another and praise Him. No part of the Bible puts fuzzy bunnies and trees ahead of your fellow humans. In fact, the two trees I remember from the New Testament are the fig tree that Jesus cursed for not providing Him with something to eat, and the tree that He was crucified upon. Bunnies were totally absent.

  5. Wow, why is everybody so angry? It doesn't matter anyway. We'll all probably be working for robots before too much longer and they'll only let us go outside long enough to use the bathroom.

  6. Michael, I am ASOLUTELY saying we are worse off now, as a whole, as a species than when we were living in balance with nature. It seems to me, that at some point in our human history, man decided to control and take from nature, rather than give and recieve. This need to control, effects everything from the land, to the animals, to the rivers, to the oceans, to our fellow man. I don't believe that humans always believed they must "fight against" nature in order to survive. I think that may be a modern viewpoint, especially since most of us have lost any and all of the knowledge required to survive in the wild. Take any sort of art form for example. Yes, there is a period of struggle when one figure's out how to best use their canvass or medium, but eventually, with enough practice and knowledge, it becomes effortless over time. Why should survival be any different? Maybe it's man's quest for knowlege that has doomed him from the beginning. The consumption I speak of refers to taking more than is really needed. Of course people need to eat. I'll write more later...

  7. Johnny, you are probably right!

  8. "I am ASOLUTELY saying we are worse off now, as a whole, as a species than when we were living in balance with nature."

    When were we living "in balance"? Nature isn't always our friend. It will kill us without remorse whenever it gets the chance through weather, disease, or other catastrophe. Ask the Japanese. Man, and every other living thing, is in a constant battle for survival. Through our intelligence, we now have the upper hand. Look at how we are flourishing now. There will be 7 billion people on this planet by the end of the week. Until the turn of the last century, population had held pretty steady throughout history. We finally burst through after advances in the last century in medicine, nutrition, transportation, etc. But how could there be so many people alive today versus 100 years ago, when birthrates have dropped so dramatically? Lower infant mortality, better overall health, and longer lifespans. I'd say we're having a cracking good time of it now as a species versus the theoretical period of "balance". Just ask all the people who died as infants or of terrible diseases during those rumored times who never had a chance in state of nature.

    Your "artform" analogy is a perfect argument FOR progress. Man started with an empty canvas, the unforgiving earth, and through practice and knowledge, turned into something he could live and flourish in. Now through technology, better agricultural techniques, better weather forecasting capabilities, the ability to predict and prepare for disasters, the means to travel over long distances, and more is almost effortless. Amazing!

    Has man's "quest for knowledge...doomed him"? Absolutely not. It has enhanced all of our lives, particularly the lives of those who otherwise would not have survived when we were "balanced" with nature. If you view each person on this earth as inherently valuable and created in the image and likeness of God, then we're in a golden age and doing quite well as a species thanks to the gifts of knowledge and progress.

    Nature, on the other hand, has no value without people, and people's ability to use nature is what makes it so awesome.

  9. There are plenty of examples of indigenous people who live a lifestyle that is more balanced or sustainable to their natural surroundings than our current culture.

    The analogy that popped in my head regarding population growth is that of an elevator. Sure it's great that we can fill the elevator with thirty or forty people, but is that necessarily a good thing? Where are we going? Are we just riding the elevator up and down until the power goes out, or a cable snaps? How comfortable are we? Is the upper floor another planet like Mars, where some of the people can get off? I guess the question could be, what is earth's carrying capacity? Is it 100,000 humans, a million humans, a billion humans, 10 billion humans?

    Regarding the artform analogy, I was thinking about music. Let's say singing is like hunting and gathering. It seems today, we sing all of our songs with "auto tune" on. Auto tune could be anologous with technology. No one knows how to sing anymore, but thanks to the technology that auto tune gives, we can all sing! Turn it off, and the songs sound horrififc and disasterous! Personally, I would like to learn how to sing again.

    Yes, this is all theoretical, perhaps utopian. It's probably too late anyhow, as there is no way 7 billion humans could go back to a hunting gathering lifestyle. I think Nature will make the call however, when she decides enough is enough. Will man survive?