Saturday, September 25, 2021
Wednesday, September 08, 2021
In 1492, when Christopher Columbus first landed in what is now known as Haiti he wrote in his diary, “This is the most beautiful land that human eyes have seen”. Part of that beauty was the soaring mountain sides covered with valuable forests of mahogany. Many – if not most – of the Indigenous Taíno died, with no immunity to the diseases the Europeans brought with them. Before he left the island, Columbus named and claimed the island for Spain, calling it Espanola. However, France also had claims and for years there were skirmishes and outright wars over the matter until Spain gave up and went home. The French interested in being wage slaves or worse in the cane fields and temporarily fled deeper into the forests. The French settlers brought over African slaves. As time passed and the slaves began to speak French, they heard about the start of the French Revolution in France. They took note. When the Slave Revolution started in Haiti there were 10 slaves to 1 European settler. They figured their odds were good.
By this time the population in Tahiti had been intermixing for several generations and a few of the slaves had gained their freedom. Some of these became educated the art of warfare. I think they could be considered the first guerrilla fighters, engaging in ‘pop up’ attacks. Their revolution started in 1791 and ended in 1803, when they ran the French soldiers with all their modem warfare out of Tahiti. They ended slavery and declared their land a nation. But the price they paid for their nation was its ruin.
The French demanded unconscionable war reparations. And the Haitians were under the gun. Literally. Because if the Haitians didn’t pay, the French promised to send their gunboats. The Haitians had not had time to have developed a capitalist economy. The only real financial asset the Haitians had was their mahogany trees. So they began cutting and sending massive logs of mahogany to France.
The last of the money promised to France was paid in 1947. That’s well within my lifetime. Imagine enduring all those long years of dismay watching Haiti's forests disappear as logs to be finished into fine furniture and housing products for rich outside their land. And what is Haiti like today? From all reports it is a failed state. Their last president was assassinated with no real replacement, and they haven’t recovered from the horrible earthquake of 2010, with another devastating one this year. The country is also staggering under environmental devastation, poor access to food, virtually non-existent health, rampant crime and, perhaps worst of all, a political class that acts only in their own personal and partisan interest.
Haiti has much the same topology as British Colombia. Yes, the mountains here were once covered as far as the eye could see with forests of Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Pine. And these forests have disappeared in much the same order as in Haiti, except even faster as Canada has the latest forestry technology. But we are already suffering the same results of the massive cutting, like wildfires, flooding, and landslides; the same results that make a gigantic mudhole out of much of Tahiti during the rainy season.
It seems that deforestation of a mountainous country brings poverty and ruin. When the environmental integrity of a country is lost, so the people become lost. The Haitians didn’t deliberately do this to themselves. After the incredible bravery of the Slave Revolution they found they had no other choice. We do. Yet we are allowing much the same thing to be done to us by our own economic elites. Politicians will only do what they are forced to do by the body politic. We all know that. So if you run across one or two in this election season, ask them what they would do about the very last ruination of our forests, especially out at Fairy Creek. They are hoping you won’t ask this because all they know about the forests decline is “talk and log”. They have all been doing this for many years which is why we are being “talked and logged” into a ruined state ourselves. But go ahead and try. Serendipity does happen. Next time.
Friday, August 27, 2021
In this video I discuss the Sierra Club and the legacy of the 'No More War in the Woods' Agreement in relation to Fairy Creek.
Monday, August 23, 2021
In this video I discuss issues of RCMP brutality and arrests and the role of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement affects the current situation.
Rainforest Flying Quad https://www.chrisistace.com/rainforest-flying-squad-fighting-for-vancouver-islands-remaining-old-growth-forests/
Luke Wallace Instagram https://www.instagram.com/tv/CSs4dQ_ne3t/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Thursday, August 19, 2021
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Saturday, August 07, 2021
The forestry struggles continue in Fairy Creek as the forests burn in many places over the North American continent, facilitated by the residue left behind from corporate logging. When I first became aware of the massive corporate clear cutting that had gone on in Clayoquot Sound 25 or more years ago, I was shocked.
I was living in the Sound at the time. I had more or less just arrived, still dizzy with the natural beauty of the place. Slowly I began to realize that the massive greenery on the mountains behind my cabin weren’t new trees but new brush. When the winter rains began, I was even more shocked to learn the new brush wasn’t strong enough to halt the massive landslides on one side of the mountain. I’d never seen anything like it in my life. I began reading about clear cutting and talking to people.
I was told by members of Friends of Clayoquot Sound that it wasn’t just the removal of the trees that destroyed the integrity of a forest, but also the amount of machinery involved in the work. Since the late 1940s most of the logging companies in BC have become increasingly mechanized. Several loggers told me that they themselves had grown more than a little uneasy over the ever-increasing amount of mechanization in the corporate logging process. Their unease was somewhat different from, or perhaps in addition to, those simply trying to save such a rare, incredibly beautiful place for posterity. Every time a new machine or new addition to an old machine was implemented, this meant fewer loggers would be needed. Each new machine or addition would mean less jobs as the purpose of each machine was simply that...to take the place of humans. I was told by older loggers that there had been push back from some of the men, and there had been struggles in the union over the issue. However, that particular struggle seemed to be over. The men who still had jobs just wanted to hold on to them.
The new innovative machines were far more efficient...like the Harvester PONSSE Bear C6, also called “a forest clearing monster”, with champions proudly proclaiming that it allows “a forester to do a day’s work without ever breaking a sweat”.
This machine is incredible. Its efficiency takes one’s breath away. It uproots trees, scrapes off the limbs and cuts them into required lengths all in one fell swoop. Other clear-cutting machines include 'bunchers' that can grasp multiple trees together for cutting, grapple yarders, and massive skidders. All of these weigh tons, tearing up the forest floor, as they are moved, installed and as they drag tons of timber along with them. Then there are the stump grinding machines and the woodchippers. These are just some of the earth and job-destroying machines used in commercial logging.
Clear-cutting dries the land, invites landslides, and worst of all, facilitates devastating wildfires. But it’s not just about us here in B.C. Our forestry practices and resulting wildfires are made worse – and contribute to – the rapid climate changes and extreme weather we are all increasingly becoming concerned about and having to live with. The emphasis on mechanization and logging machines I’ve been talking about are therefore directly connected to the most recent news about the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream which will affect hundreds of millions of people due to desalination from the warmer temperatures melting vast amounts of freshwater.
We are living in the legacy of the machines we use to increase efficiency, so that we can consume more, and that the ravenous thing called ‘the economy’ can continue to be fed and grow, without seeming end. But we cannot ‘innovate’ our way out of this with more technology and mechanization. While you may think the Fairy Creek protestors can’t change the whole world, they are showing us that we can take on the responsibility to clean up our own practices in our own backyard.
More next time.