Friday, January 28, 2005

Collapse

"For instance, deforestation of the United States, rampant in the 19th century, has stopped: forested acreage of the country began rising during the 20th century, and is still rising. Why? Wood is no longer a primary fuel, while high-yield agriculture allowed millions of acres to be retired from farming and returned to trees."

Greg Esterbrook in this review of Jared Diamond's new book Collapse succumbs to the untrained theme here. However, these tree farms are managed, and are quite unlike the primordial forests they replaced. More people live in cites, yet more development takes place in rural areas simultaneously. These overgeneralizations are insidious.

From what I've read and as conservation biologist, I agree with Diamond: you can extrapolate island biogeography to the mainland by degrees. The numbers are larger to be sure. But so are the losses we face. Esterbrook is wrong.

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