Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Trees In Your Way

Trees in your way? That’s what this billboard near my house asks. Part of the sign is covered, I assume intentionally, by tall trees, making the point that trees are just pretty much in the way.

It seems wrong that we should chop down trees merely because they block our view, because there are lots of better reasons for chopping down trees than that.

Don’t get me wrong. I like trees. I’m a big fan of trees, because we can build and make so many useful things out of them, everything from houses to paper to money. And making money is what trees need to do to survive.

Because I love trees, I argue against my students and other faculty where I’ve worked who say that we should limit our use of paper, that we should print front and back to use as little paper as possible. My misguided, un-American peers and students somehow think that by not using paper, they are protecting trees.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The only way to protect trees, the only way to make sure we will always have enough trees is to make sure that enough people are making enough money from trees. That’s why they say there are more trees in the US now than there were when the Pilgrims came here centuries ago, and the numbers are increasing. It's simple supply and demand.

Like corn or wheat, trees are a renewable cash crop. As long as people are making money from them, there will always be enough trees, enough for you and for me, for the birdies and the squirrels.

So do your part: save a tree. Go and print a bunch of long, single-sided documents. Our economy needs all the help it can get.


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