Clear-cutting, a logging practise in which most, or all trees in a forest sector, are cut, (as wikipedia so nicely puts it) is the focus of short film I'm currently researching, and a day of reading up on it, has got me thinking about the ecological effects of our everyday choices. A lot of people I know and love have a shockingly laissez-fair attitude about these matters. This pertains particularly to young urbanites, who's whole self-image is based on consumption. It is often the case, that in these superficially eco-conscious days, people either feel there's nothing they can do about their ecological toll on the planet, or that they're already doing enough, and certainly a lot more than most other people.
I call the former the "what difference does one H&M T-shirt make in the face of the melting ice-caps?"-approach, and the latter the "This H&M T-shirt is made of organic cotton!"-justification. Don't get me wrong. I have bought many a water-wasting, erosion causing H&M T-shirt myself, and guzzled enough gas on frivolous trips to fill a tanker, and often feel I'm still none the wiser. It's true that in the face of such momentous destruction of eco-systems, as the one we're currently facing, one is tempted to seek solace in one's own little pastimes; such as art, music, fashion, travel to the corners of the earth that may not be there for much longer, to escape the enormous burden of guilt we've heaped upon ourselves.
And what does all this have to do with the trees and the mass-extinctions of them, that is clear-cutting?
Last summer, my husband and I, visited the Hoh rain forest, in the Olympic National park (in a gas-guzzling car of course), where we saw some of the biggest and the most beautiful trees in the world. To get to the park you have to travel trough privately owned land, most of it clear-cut to resemble a forest version of Hiroshima, or second-growth, which is as dark and dense as a nightmare. It was one of the most depressing things I've ever seen, and it took away from the pleasure of seeing the beautiful rain forest, knowing that it could so easily be turned into board feet of lumber, that those thousand-year-old trees were far from sturdy when it came to modern logging equipment. It made me angry to think about it, and when you're angry, you usually look for someone to blame. Who was at fault here, I wondered? The lumber companies and their greed? The politicians who did not expand the National Parks, who leased the companies public land for a dime and a song? Sadly no. In the end, it has always been the consumer, she who just has to buy new IKEA bookshelves, because they're just so cheap, and go so well with the new IKEA sofa. That consumer, by and large, is me, and everyone I know. It makes no difference that IKEA doesn't buy old growth timber, or that I don't own a single stick of furniture from IKEA, or even that I've not bought anything new made of wood in my whole life. It is the principle of the matter. What to do about it exactly, I am not certain, but I think of those trees every time I feel the urge to buy one of those organic cotton H&M T-shirts.
Listening to: Bowerbirds