Framing the Energy Issue

February 18, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More

Do you remember Dubya’s “Clear Skies Initiative”? It was an plan to relax air pollution standards. His “Healthy Forests Initiative” was a timber industry clear-cutting plan.

Energy Tomorrow logoI recently saw an ad for EnergyTomorrow.org. As near as I can tell, it follows Sarah Palin’s policy of “Drill, drill, drill!”. Apparently, long term energy security depends on using up our petroleum reserves as quickly as possible. And moreover to direct its use as fuel, rather than conserving it for producing plastics and fertilizer.

I suppose that they mean “tomorrow” in the sense of as soon as possible. But the ad and the site is framed to look “green”. As if.

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Category: Communication, Economy, Fraud, ignorance

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (5)

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  1. AnonaMiss says:

    I don't know about the rest of that, but I do know that your criticism of the Healthy Forests Initiative is way off-base. I took a class from a couple members of the dendrochronology (the science of tree rings) lab at the University of Arizona; we actually took went to look at one of the places they had cleared. Timber companies were hired to clear out saplings, brush and small trees which decades of environmental mismanagement in the mid-20th century had allowed to grow up to the point that a fire would be catastrophic. Ground fires are a natural part of the ecology of the southern Rockies, and older trees have fire-resistant bark to help combat it; but the young growth and plant refuse had built up to the point that fires in the area got tall enough to catch onto the conifers' needles, which burned hot enough to kill the trees and spread extremely rapidly.

    In addition, the timber companies got almost nothing but the contract money out of it: any tree of sufficient girth, about that of a person, they were forced to leave behind. No timber company is interested in only being able to harvest saplings: the bigger trees are where the money's at. You couldn't make a single decent two-by-four out of the trees they were allowed to take.

    Not-cutting-down-trees to preserve an ecology is like abstinence-only sex education: it sounds obvious in principle, but when you do the research, it turns out it hurts way more than it helps.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    It's a trade association for oil and gas producers. Reading it makes you think you were back in the 1980's. Check out its related organizations. http://energytomorrow.org/Related_Organizations.a… You're right. Drill, drill, drill. As if there's no need to do anything else (though there is some lip service to diversifying energy sources). It's a good illustration of money driving thought.

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    On paper, Healthy Forests looks like a good plan. But the timber industry is not just about big timber. There is profit in paper pulp. The Initiative is about removing smaller growth, not about felling and leaving it to provide nutrients, as a fire would.

    And to reach the areas to healthify, they do have to cut swaths of bigger trees to gain access. It reversed the no-new-roads rule of the previous administration.

    Another problem is that the small trees being cut are the second generation in these formerly clear-cut areas. Those are the ones that would have grown up to resemble old growth trees. In another century, those smaller trees would have been worth several times what each parent tree is worth, per board foot. Any dendrochronologist can tell you why.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    I keep wondering how 'drill, drill, drill', which will only accelerate the rate at which America depletes its domestic oil reserves, somehow results in energy independence. I also wonder what America will use to fuel its Air Force (the tip of America's military spear) when its own oil is gone and foreign nations decide not to sell it any.

  5. I say use up the oil and get it over with. It's going to be gone eventually and we will need to get on the ball and develop new sources of energy. By dribbling it out you prolong the inevitable, create artificial shortages and difficulty along the way.

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