Great Bear RainforestThe controversy over logging, and more specifically clearcutting, is not a new issue in America. Ever since the 1920’s and 1930’s, when this nation started to become conscious of conservation, citizens have weighed the consequences of logging. Critics have questioned whether the increase in jobs, tax dollars, and economic growth was worth the destruction of forest lands. Regardless of what they believe today, the logging industry had become so efficient that by the late 1980’s nearly 100,000 acres of federal land had been clearcut since the industry began. Logging technology has advanced rapidly in terms of speed, to meet the increasing demands for lumber, paper, and other products derived from trees. This in turn has greatly impacted the environment by severely degrading watersheds, leading to increased soil erosion, the diminution in the quality of drinking water, and the decline of fish stocks, among many other consequences. In this essay I will examine the progression of logging equipment throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and discuss how these changes in technology have not only changed the relationship of those who work in the industry, but also haw this has changed the wider relationship of society and nature.
Before starting my research I thought there had been a progressive increase in the amount of land that had been clearcut. My reasoning for this was that logging machinery at the end of the 19th century was primitive compared to that of more recent times. As a result, it would have been difficult to compete with the output of today’s industry. However, in the late 19th century there was a boom in the logging industry and thousands of acres of land across the nation were forested. Hist…
…the improvement in machinery. However, if they were just based on technological improvements, there would not be a continual rise and fall in the logging industry. These periods of increased logging have drastic affects on the environment, today, just like one hundred years ago. More importantly, the growth in technology has led to the reduction of workers. In my opinion, it seems that now we are dealing with the big capitalist pull. Individual companies are buying these forests just to log. For the most part, they are the ones that are reaping the benefits, while destroying habitats for people and animals alike. Thereby changing the relationship of those who work in the industry and that of environmentally conscience society.
1 According to Foster, “harvesting is sustainable if the stimulated growth rate is equal to or greater than that of the existing forest.”