Why have we re-forested the united states with Pine following the great harvest of the 1800s and early 1900s? A part of me wonders if the south played a role in this. Most of the pine reforest program started there. It helped make the chemical industry a lot of money. I wonder if the chemical lobby and existing farms wanted to keep the program alive and replant the depleted Ohio, Michigan, etc. forests with pine.
I actually think its because of climate change. I think that Dr. Young Hai Chi makes a good point, that we seem to be very very focused on staying out ahead of climate change. A two-degree rise in temp would destroy a lot of northern forest land—unless a hardy southern pine was planted instead.
In the 1630s, the US was 46% covered in forest. By 1910 it was 34%. Today, we plant 2.5 Billion trees a year. Guess who loves the environment—big issue for them—this whole planting trees thing—Donald Trump and the Republican party.
Donald is leading the charge. When I saw that, I thought it was weird. Why is saving the planet so important to Donald Trump? I don’t normally think of republicans as Tree Huggers. Then, I read about the Trillion Tree Campaign, which is a UN program tied to the Green Belt Movement in Africa to fight climate change. That movement is all about ecofeminism and fighting poverty in Africa, which, in turn, is also backed by a bunch of “princes” and “princes” in post-colonial Europe. Now my interest was really peaking. The Prince of Monaco is building a hippy army to save the world… huh? When you look at the timing of it all, you will see that it is directly tied to a bunch of US intervention in Africa. The Green Belt Movement kicks off in the 60s and 70s when the US was extracting minerals and supporting regime changes in Africa.
Super interesting then, that “tree planting” and “forestry” suddenly seem to be this geopolitical front. In 2004, the Green Belt leaders won the Nobel Peace Prize. To understand how a bunch of peace-loving activists are actually tools of the military-industrial complex, one must look back at the US and our own forest lobby. After it was created, the feds used it as a money-making scheme to log and mill old growth for paper, etc. Then, in 1920 we tied the Forest Service to oil and mineral rights—the bi-partisan angle came in 1933 when Roosevelt connected the forest to the work camps of the great depression.
Democrats then realized that they could create jobs by pushing forestry to build roads or small scale industry in very rural areas. Plant a tree to create a job became a new political tool. The feds figured out how to incentivize states with a 25% kickback on logging operations. By the 1940s, the Forest Service also became deeply connected to the war effort with the Timber Production War Project that inevitably connected forestry once and for all with the global military-industrial complex—thus the desire by the intelligence community to use forests around the world as a weapon.
Today, 109 of 122 of the federal programs for logging lose money and there is a $10B backlog on road requests. The Knutson-Vandenberg Act of 1930 set forth a plan for reforestation. Today, that budget makes back $230M per year (out of more than a billion dollars the agency spends on re-forestation) from the timber sales (self-licking ice cream cone). The billion dollars is actually spent on all sorts of conservation efforts as K-V funds (which is in part why no one complains about the blood money side of the equation). But, going back to the fir tree. All of this demand has created large scale nurseries who buy and trade large quantities of seeds. But why evergreens? Well, it would seem that our native American Chestnuts and other trees weren’t hardy enough and eventually died in a near mass extinction event after a Japanese tree disease was introduced in the 1800s. This lead to GMO research to help create chemicals and modify trees to be more resistant. The reforestation plantations (50% of the trees planted) were the perfect test bed for GMO research. Again, we find the self-licking ice cream cone. Resistant trees become profitable trees in the reforest plantations and thus we have lots and lots of evergreens.