Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sobering Statistics From "The Golden Spruce," by John Vaillant

Here is a passage from the book "The Golden Spruce," by John Valliant that I found sobering:

What the chain saw and its mechanical attendants-the bulldozer, log skidder, and self-loading logging truck-have done is to reduce the great trees of the Northwest down to objects that a man of average size and physical condition can fall, buck, load, and transport. Today, a tree ten feet across the butt can be felled in ten minutes flat, and bucked up in half an hour. Afterward it is a matter of moments for a grapple yarder-essentially a huge mobile claw on caterpillar treads-to pick up the multiton logs and load them onto a waiting truck (no need for a spar tree anymore). In theory, then, a 200 ton tree that has stood, unseen, for a thousand years and withstood wind, fire, floods, and earthquakes can be brought to earth, rendered into logs, and bound for the sawmill in under an hour-by just three men. In 1930 it would have taken a dozen men a day to accomplish the same thing. In 1890 it would have taken them three weeks, and in 1790 it would have been a matter of months-assuming they were even able to fell the tree.


  1. Is this supposed to be a negative thing? Why would we want logging to be more inefficient? Technology, properly applied, is a benefit for all.

  2. The question is whether or not we have the discipline to "properly apply" the efficiency of our current technology. I don't think we would want logging or any other industry to be more inefficient, but with such landscape altering power at our fingertips, it can be a problem, especially if we still have an outdated mindset.