Trees, Hills, and Justice — 2 Comments

  1. I would imagine that part of the problem is that those hills you were looking at are most likely owned by someone, and having them covered in trees, while pleasant to look at and healthy for the environment, is not economically viable. The destruction of that ecosystem was likely necessary at the time in order to turn a profit, which equates to someones livelihood.
    I would like to see our thought process as a society migrate towards a more symbiotic approach between environment and economics at the lower rungs of the ladder. We seem to be getting much better at rewarding large corporations for making environmentally responsible decisions, but could do much better with small scale entities. For instance, the landowner could decide to place some wind turbines and a cell phone tower on top of the hills, generating revenue to support their livelihood. Most states have laws in place now that require utilities to purchase the electricity at a reasonable rate to support this. But what incentive is provided for the landowner to plant some trees and let the are reforest itself? The reforestation part of the scenario is too small to be worthy of any sort of legislation, but if there was an entity that the landowner could go to for a custom, one-off “reforestation tax break” then everyone wins.
    I kind of got lost in all that, but to answer the question: Yes, there is a moral obligation, but the needs of a small business entity or individual to sustain themselves will probably trump that obligation every time unless society does a better job of incentivizing the small-scale players on a case-by-case basis.

    • Yes, you’re absolutely right: We cannot force small businesses to make ecologically wise decisions and then leave them in or near subsistence living. This requires a social change not just individual change. As a society, we need to stop rewarding short-term thinking and profit.

      I don’t think, though, that the reforestation part is too small because most of the hills in the San Francisco East and North Bay are bare and could use reforestation. This would also likely help with our chronic water shortage here… But, again, this isn’t something only one individual can do. We can start small but ultimately, change will require a paradigm shift when the number of trees growing for the next generations’ use is more of a measure of wealth than the size of your bank-account (for example…).

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