Jul 18 2023
Replace Remove Recover Episode 8 - For the Love of Trees
Today we're looking at trees. This was not the episode I wanted to do next. I had a few others planned, but everywhere I looked for replacements to fossil fuels, people thought trees were the answer. Architects specifying timber to replace concrete in low-embodied-carbon buildings, companies buying carbon credits from forests to reach net-zero, biomass replacing coal in coal fired power plants. Every solution I heard felt... weird. Trees don't strike me as a 21st century high-tech solution to climate change. Maybe I'm crazy. You tell me. Listen to these voices and tell me if you sense the weirdness. There are approximately three trillion trees on earth today. That sounds like a lot, but there used to be more. Before human agriculture, there were twice as many, about six trillion trees. Humans removed 46% of all the planet’s trees since the dawn of agriculture, and half of that happened since 1900. So pervasive has human intervention been that only about 34% of the world's forests are primary forests, you know, the kind we think of when we hear the word “forest”. That's 34% AFTER the 50% we've already removed. That means 85% of the world's original forests are currently serving human use. Half of them serve us by no longer existing at all. The truth is, whatever we use timber for, timber is not renewable. It is a finite resource, one that competes with all of our other resources, and one we've already half depleted. When you see it like this, you realize so many of our attempts to use trees are absurd. The ideas that we’re pushing to make more, to use more, to burn more, to bury more are such consumerist concepts. They’re anathema to all environmental beliefs and scientific understanding, but it’s environmentalists and scientists proposing it. That's weird. How unnatural are we willing to make nature in order to clean up our mess? More correctly, how much MORE unnatural than the 85% we already have. This obsession of ours for the regenerative beauty of trees, this timberpunk view of returning to a yesteryear we've long since depleted, this puerile faith in nature to clean up our adult-sized mess, our love of forests may yet be the end of them. This podcast is called Replace, Remove, Recover, and as you can see from trees, we get so motivated by Replace Remove that we often forget about Recover. We need to stop looking at nature as a renewable resource and see it for the finite and closed system it is. The next time you’re looking for a low carbon alternative, don’t look at trees. Don’t ask nature to solve this for you. Recover means we need a plan for the next million years. If you want to make a difference, contact the Rainforest Action Network to see how you can protect a forest, not for carbon credits, but for survival. Talk to your local Climate Change Commission to treat biomass the same way we treat coal. Tell your local Emissions Trading Scheme to divorce forests from carbon, forcing funds to be spent on anthropogenic solutions to anthropogenic emissions. We need solutions that don't involve trees. Rainforest Action Network: https://www.ran.org/ If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with someone you know who needs to hear it. If it made you feel, made you angry, made you cry, let someone else feel the same. Music in this episode provided by Artlist.io Theme Song - "The Best Thing" by Paper Planes 01:10 - "Sero" by Crest 03:30 - "Many Persons in His Head" by Max H. 06:10 - "What We Have Lost" by David James Terry 10:06 - "Many Persons in His Head" by Max H. 11:59 - "Four on Five" by Yehezkel Raz 13:05 - "Vacuum" by Buddha Kid 15:00 - "Sleeper Valley" by Ardie Son 19:18 - "Erased from My Mind" by Kevin Graham 24:31 - "Less Than Tomorrow" by Raphael Angelini 25:39 - "Four on Five" by Yehezkel Raz 27:58 - "Less Than Tomorrow" by Raphael Angelini Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Drop us a line on gmail @replaceremoverecover Want to support us? Find us on Patreon at patreon.com/ReplaceRemoveRecover Receive exclusive content including transcripts and private podcasts that answer your questions and respond to your comments.