Monday, June 09, 2008

Finding a Balance...

Early this morning I went to a town hall meeting sponsored by the Ontario Forestry Coalition.

As the link shows, they are currently fighting over the implementation of the new Endangered Species Act in the province. They declare this to be a death knell for the forestry industry (by my count this is at least the 5th death stroke for that industry since I arrived here 7 years ago).

AS I listened to their spin on the story (and attempted to remain critical) I have to say that they have some valid points. There are ill-defined terms, there is an overly onerous burden of proof placed on the industry. But it also sounded an awful lot like "we don't mind caring for species at risk but as long as it doesn't cost us too much" (yes the industry has made strides towards being more responsible that is undeniable). IT was sort of a variation on things like "change is fine as long as I don't have to change" or "not in my backyard". ANd that doesn't help their case.

The most striking part of their presentation was their admission that the forestry industry totally misunderstood the rules of the game. THey seemed to be surprised that the environmental lobby played the political pressure "special interest group" game and won. Note to forest industry -- if you don't play you don't win, a promise (written or oral) from a cabinet minister just doesn't mean a guaranteed victory.

But in the end, here is the big problem. I don't believe that current forestry asumptions around sustainability are going to hold true. Some climate change models move us right out of the boreal forest. THere does need to be a balance between environment and economics. But we aren't even close to finding that balance, especially when the future environment is so uncertain.

Oh and it also strikes me that humans are a terribly arrogant species. In general we assume that our "rights", wants and needs trump those of all other species. THen when someone suggests that we need to find a balance we call UNFAIR!

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