No one plants more trees than the people who cut them down.
Deforestation has been an issue for a number of decades, but it really started taking off as a popular concern in the mid-1980s, when organizations like Greenpeace and Earth First!, along with Al Gore, started gaining media coverage.
Earth First!, in particular, initiated tactics like blocking logging roads, tree-sitting, and tree-spiking, to stop logging and raise awareness.
People who tend to take things at face value, isolate their thinking to the “fact” they’re given, and shy away from critical analysis will hear something like “there are 8 billion trees cut down every second,” and panic.
After hearing a stat like this, the thinking stops at the end of the sentence, and emotion takes over.
“Oh my God, we’re cutting down all of our trees! We’ve got to do something. Stop all logging! Find alternative solutions to wood! Use more plastic!” (I added that last one, because it often seems that to some, every fact exists in isolation from other facts.)
But people who “think” like that seldom continue the thinking beyond the statement.
For example, when I first started hearing those kinds of stats, my next thought was, “well, how are loggers going to continue to have a business and make money if they keep cutting down all the trees?”
If hair didn’t grow back, choosing to be a barber wouldn’t be a long-term career choice.
Thinking similarly, loggers had to come up with a solution. And I don’t think they had to spend too much time on it before they decided, “we should plant trees as we cut them down so we have constant inventory.”
And so, the logging industry plants in the neighborhood of three times as many trees as they cut down. And thanks to our knowledge of genetics, we are able to grow trees faster than ever before.
This is not new. The logging industry in America has been replacing what they cut down at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio since at least the 1940s.
So why doesn’t anyone know this? Because the logging industry has one of the worst marketing departments in the history of marketing.
For more than 30 years, I’ve been wondering when they were going to get in the game and start telling their side of the story.
Last Monday, the answer finally arrived. I saw a billboard by Working Forests that said the State of Washington logging industry planted 52 million trees last year – three times the number they cut down.
I’m not sure what took them so long. It used to be we had to rely on the public using some critical thinking to take a holistic view of the entire tree cutting/planting cycle. (Which meant popular media and culture wasn’t going to do it.)
But with this small billboard campaign, it’s good to see the logging industry start telling the rest of the story.
Another small step toward logic taking the stage back from emotion…