The Ugly Deforestation Of The World
By James Donahue
The tree is a natural complement to man. The environment we share is so designed that man needs trees
and trees need man. With every breath we take oxygen into our lungs then exhale carbon dioxide as a byproduct of respiration.
The trees around us, in turn, use photosynthesis to absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale.
During photosynthesis, the tree combines carbon dioxide and water with chlorophyll to form a simple
sugar which is food for the tree. The by-product of this process is oxygen. Thus trees generate the oxygen we need to live,
just as we generate the carbon dioxide the trees need to live.
Humans and trees are somewhat alike in their design. We have red blood flowing through our veins.
The blood carries the oxygen and metabolized foods that we consume through our bodies. Trees have sap flowing through their
veins located just under the bark, or skin. The sap, like our blood, carries nutrients produced by photosynthesis and drawn
from the soil through the plant.
While humans are free to move from place to place on the planet, we are somewhat like the tree in
that we are rooted to the Earth. Attempts to travel into space have proven this. We cannot exist very long away from the planet
because we need the air, the food and even the gravitational pull of the Mother Earth to stay alive and healthy.
People who live close to the soil, the aborigines, Gnostics and I think many family farmers, understand
the sacredness of the ecology provided by the Mother Earth. When we lived among the Native Americans in the Southwest my wife
and I were surprised to see how the people respected the Mother as a living, breathing entity.
When we once offered a visiting Hopi priest a meal at our table, he did not eat until he took
a portion of the food from his plate outside, and returned it with reverence to the planet. It was consumed by the birds,
animals and crawling things of the soil.
It was said that the aboriginal people never cut a tree without first asking permission of the Mother
and explaining why that tree was needed. Nothing in their world is ever wasted.
This perfect balance between man and nature remained relatively intact until very recently in human
history. Something changed about three hundred years ago at about the time we invented steam engines,
learned to smelt steel, and launched what has been known as the industrial age. At this time we shifted into a capitalistic
and materialistic mindset that is counter to the natural lifestyle we were meant to live.
Since then we have gone through two world wars, started mass producing automobiles, houses and plastics.
We left the farm to work in the cities. Instead of the simple life we now live in a hectic, speeded up existence. Everybody
is in a hurry. We have turned into consumers. We have stopped tending the garden. And we have overpopulated our planet.
We no longer think of trees as a part of our world. They are now either a lawn ornament, or a source
of wood with which to build homes, produce paper or just burn in our fireplaces. Most people don’t even want to burn
the wood to keep warm. To them, the fireplace fire is just another pretty ornament.
Factory farms, those massive industrial food manufacturing facilities that have developed to provide
food for the masses of stuffed, overweight farting humans that crowd every free space on our planet, regard trees as obstacles.
Thus trees are bulldozed into piles and burned to clear more land on which to grow more genetically modified food.
We have so crowded the planet that people are building homes in forested areas. For them, it is an
effort to get away from the overcrowded cities. But in so doing, they have encroached on the forest homes of the wild animals
of the Earth. Not only this, but they have put themselves at great risk of being caught up by, and starting forest fires that
now rage freely through millions of acres of prime timber.
Our carelessness at tending the garden also is showing up in strange new diseases that are ravaging
our trees. Beetles and other crawly things that feed on trees are being imported into the United States from all over the
world. Entire species of trees like the Elm, Horse Chestnut and Ash, are being wiped out within a few years as these pests
gnaw their way across the land. Something now is attacking the oak trees and the ancient redwoods of California.
The worse event has been the careless destruction of our great rain forests all over the world, as
land is cleared for homes and farmland, and greedy lumber barons seek what wood they can still find to sell for building construction.
But wood is getting to be in such short supply now that lumber mills are starting to find ways to turn sawdust and glue into
boards and two-by-fours. Unfortunately, the glue is full of lethal formaldehyde. The fumes leach into the air of the homes
and buildings we erect, making people sick.
As the forests disappear, the oxygen production is reduced. Also the smoke, ash and other noxious
gasses from industrial waste are filling the already oxygen thinned air. People are developing more and more lung problems.
Asthma, emphysema and other illnesses are now too common.
Here is a brief review of the deforestation that has occurred in the world:
In the Himalayas, too many people are trying to live on too little land. About 40 percent of the forests
were destroyed since 1955, mostly for fuel and to make room for agriculture.
India once boasted more than 1.6 million square kilometers of primary forest. Of that, about 95 percent
has been destroyed.
North Africa once was known for its great forests. The region now is desert. Ethiopia’s forests
have declined from 40 percent to just three percent of the land.
In Indonesia, an estimated 16 million hectares of forest have been turned into sterile wasteland.
Canada has lost 60 percent of its old-growth forests to logging.
The United States has destroyed 85 percent of its forests.
The primary rainforests are completely destroyed in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Haiti. Most also
are gone from the Ivory Coast. The forests in the Philippines and Thailand are about 50 percent destroyed.
The only rain forests still standing relatively intact are in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and New Guinea.
But the loggers are at work here as well. It is estimated that these prime forests will be gone within the next decade.
The human race is in the process of self-strangulation. We are cutting off the natural oxygen
supply to our planet and our lungs.