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Global Deforestation Demoed In Google Earth

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the woodman-spare-that-tree dept.

Earth 207

eldavojohn writes "On Google's official blog, they claim a 'new technology prototype that enables online, global-scale observation and measurement of changes in the earth's forests.' Ars has more details on what Google unveiled at Copenhagen. If you have Google Earth installed, you can find a demonstration here. Many organizations and government agencies are on board with this initiative to put deforestation before the eyes of the public. If only satellite data of North America existed before the logging industry swept in!" It's interesting to contemplate the implications for intelligence gathering of Google's automated tools to compare satellite photos.

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207 comments

kdawson has a tiny penis (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30404600)

Me chinese. Me play joke. Me go peepee in your coke.

Re:kdawson has a tiny penis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30404652)

Me chinese. Me play joke. Me go peepee in your coke.

Looks like BadAnalogyGuy [slashdot.org] is trolling again.

Re:kdawson has a tiny penis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405408)

Do you consider all of the recent (something)AnalogyGuy accounts to be BAG trolling as well? All the best trolls get imitated, and sometimes the imitations are better than the originals.

soooo (1)

Sunda666 (146299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404636)

no need for satellite data from back then, just assume it was mostly green.

You might not be as right as you think (3, Interesting)

Quila (201335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404810)

Depending on your timeframe.

Forests covered about half the land before settlement, now about a third.

But the amount of forests have been going up in the last decade. One reason is because most of the forests belong to the evil logging industry, and they have an economic incentive to expand forestation if they want to expand their businesses. Today we have about as much forest as we did 100 years ago.

The advent of the automobile and other forms of transport, plus better farming techniques, also helped spread the forests, since we don't need so much land dedicated to feeding us and our livestock.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404982)

Today we have about as much forest as we did 100 years ago.

Genetically modified, fast-growing hardwood cash-crops do not equal "forest".

The things the evil logging industry (your words) wants to call "forests" do not allow for insignificant elements like wildlife, forest floor or wetlands. They are no more "forests" than cornfields are prairies.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405094)

look on the brightside, it hopefully means they'll stick mostly to cutting down their forest fields and not so much the actual forests filled with wildlife.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405182)

but even these forests do photosynthesize and give out oxygen, which is a positive

Re:You might not be as right as you think (1, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405962)

Deforestation is myth. It's being pushed by so-called scientists who want to destroy capitalism. If you don't publish papers showing that deforestation is occurring, you lose funding. I have a petition signed by over 31,000 American scientists showing that deforestation is a lie. You should read the op-eds from a certain self-taught British viscount on the subject; he explains what the "scientists" pushing Deforestation Theory are getting wrong.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30406028)

Interesting. Too bad your links are all broken.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405200)

One thing I recall from years ago was this one company advertising itself as the tree-growing company, because it "conscienciously" planted two trees for every one it cut down. Then I learned that the natural mortality rate of young trees was 50%. This means that they weren't really making an effort to replant the clear-cut U.S. forests of yore; they were just trying to keep up with their current logging rate. Stupid. If trees are a crop, then trees need to be considered as things that will eventually deplete soil minerals; any place where they are only replanting trees will eventually fail to produce decently cuttable trees, just like any other single-crop farm. So they need to extend the cropland devoted to this crop, by replanting some of those older clear-cut areas (like most of the state of Montana) with trees. Before it is too late, and they find themselves with not enough good trees to cut, due to their own short-sighted stupidity.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405660)

Depends on a lot of factors. For instance, the state of Oregon requires that a certain minimum number of trees be replanted after logging [ct.gov] - even the "least productive areas" (their term) requires that a minimum of 100 tree seedlings per acre be replanted for every acre of logging... IMHO that's likely more than enough to cover the far smaller number of mature trees that had been cut down. They have to replant within a year of logging, and have to insure that by the fifth year, the seedlings must all be "healthy and out-competing the surrounding vegetation" (again, their term). The burden for this is on the landowner, be it a logging company or someone selling his/her timber to one.

Other states have very similar laws (see cite above).

Re:You might not be as right as you think (3, Insightful)

onepoint (301486) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405280)

wait wait wait. If the paper industry needs wood, why not let them plant and reap that crop. same for the lumber industry, this way over time more and more virgin forest is left alone until one point the only crop they are harvesting is their own.

in reference to GM Woods, your right it's not a forest, it's a crop. and if you follow that crop ( which is some of the hardest data to get due to eco - terrorist burning down planted fields ), you'll find the creation of some interesting trees ( I am waiting for the 8' diameter tree with a height of 20 feet gown in 10 years to be published )

and just another note: we are seeing more responsible harvesting of forest over the last 40 years, it is progress, given it's not what I would be hoping for, but at least it's the right direction. I expect that in the next 100 years we will see more virgin type forest's and GM tree crops .

Re:You might not be as right as you think (2, Insightful)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405310)

no room for wildlife in these cash crop lands? um you better go tell that to all the wild life living in them. seriously, have you ever been hunting(sorry that may offend PETA) HIKING in them? all kinds of fuzzy creatures. i assure you they don't know the difference and don't care. it is down right ridiculous to claim that just because a tree was planted for profit that it is somehow less desirable to the creatures that live in them. i like clean air and water as much as the next person but some of you have gone off the deep end and are just getting down right stupid.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405734)

You hiked (sorry) hunted in these forests, and you could tell by looking at fuzzy creatures that these forest farms support the same amount and diversity of wild creatures and plants? I assume you don't know the difference and don't care.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405352)

To what genetically modified fast growing hardwood are you referring? No such tree exists. The bulk of the logging industry is in softwoods anyway (dimensional lumber and paper).

monocultures perhaps, but your just spouting nonsense about genetically modified trees.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405516)

You fuckers are always switching the goalposts. First you cry about deforrestation then when there is reforrestation that's suddenly bad too. Just fucking kill yourself and take away your footprint on nature.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (3, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405550)

Err, GM trees? I can grok the existence of GM food crops, but somehow I'm not seeing trees as being that easily modified on a commercial scale (mostly because it takes so damned long to grow them and test the results by comparison).

Now selective 'breeding' and grafting, okay - but to be honest, both would barely qualify for the moniker "genetically modified" - Hell, Dachshunds would be better suited to the term "GM" than a selectively-bred Douglas Firs would).

If you have evidence of actual GM trees being sown and grown commercially, I'd be interested to find out where.

They are better than "Forests" for global warming (3, Insightful)

Quila (201335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405588)

Lots of fast-growing trees suck up more CO2 than ancient forests.

But they are the forest industry, so they must be evil.

Re:They are better than "Forests" for global warmi (1)

AkiraRoberts (1097025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405776)

No, they're not evil. In the grand scheme of things, a forest, even a mostly monoculture forest, is better than a wasteland. But, I would argue that this monoculture is not even remotely the equivalent of the diverse ecosystem that it replaced. Could it eventually become something a bit more diverse, in time? Sure. So could a corn field, if left alone long enough.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405630)

Yes we have a lot more forests because of the automobile, you have 1 forest, so you need to put a street through it and now you have 2 forests, make a cross street and you now have 4 forests. Where I live, we have a whole jungle already.

Re:You might not be as right as you think (1)

SombreReptile (455564) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405920)

Yes, it does depend on your timeframe. In 10 years, all of the now standing trees already killed by the pine beetle will be cleared, leaving western Canada (and I assume the US as well) deforested to a much larger degree.

Trees (4, Insightful)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404698)

Interestingly, before the white man appeared in North America, there were an average of 8 trees per acre and now there are an average of 220 trees per acre in the US alone.

Just saying...

Re:Trees (1)

rfelsburg (1237090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404758)

Damn White men, always putting trees where they don't belong. Honestly, planting trees, what's wrong with you!

Re:Trees (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405018)

Obviously they are trying to ruin the environment, don't you read Nature?
http://www.iema.net/news/envnews?aid=10949 [iema.net]

All kidding aside though, the type of trees matter, even palm oil plantations aren't the same ecosystem as the native rainforest they replace. Though the Palm Oil plantations are seen as the greener alternative to soy bean farms which is what a lot of rainforest is being cut down for.

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30406078)

The cause is less about planting trees than it is about preventing forest fires. Prior to effective fire fighting there was more of a balance between prarie and forest. Fires would burn back trees and the area would quickly turn to prarie. Over the next hundred year or so the tree canopy would be dense enough stop sunlight and choke out the undergrowth.

Most of the forest in the US was logged at one time or another. Much of it poorly. Our most extensive forests are all relatively new, so the trees are relativelty small, so they remain tightly spaced.

Re:Trees (2, Informative)

AlphaBit (1244464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404772)

Exactly, the logging industry (as related to paper production) uses farmed trees. This means that the paper/logging industry has led to an increase in the number of trees growing in North America, while at the same time no longer contributing to deforestation. I believe almost all of our paper comes from these farmed trees.

Of course, increased forest cover could be just as bad as decreased forest cover. It's more about balance than maximization.

Re:Trees (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404986)

Farming probably isn't the best analogy (tree plantations are a bit more fire and forget than a corn field), and if you measure in terms of the volume of timber (not just the number of trees, but the actual volume of wood fiber) standing on a given acre, there are plenty of landholders that have seen pretty big decreases over the past 50 years.

Re:Trees (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30404826)

that _might_ be true, but those 8 trees were a heck of a lot larger than the forests we now have. Way back in the day, the entire state of Pennsylvania was clearcut for timber. The pine trees didn't regrow and the forests in PA are now predominately composed of hardwood trees that flourished naturally.

Re:Trees (4, Interesting)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404874)

8 Trees per acres sounds about right for centuries old trees in pristine forest.

I have a quarter acre with 5, 30-40 year old maples on it, we also have 2 Japanese Cedars and a Cherry tree.

200 trees in an acre would be pretty closely spaced young trees, maybe like an orchard or nursery.

Now what we should be looking at is not how many trees we have per acre, but how many of those are young AND carbon absorbing trees, compared to carbon producing trees from decomposition. Forests have a carbon life cycle, and their balance shifts during that cycle, also some species of tree are better absrbers than others.

Re:Trees (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405178)

Forests and Jungles are generally carbon neutral.

Every atom of carbon that a plant absorbs is naturally released when the plant decomposes.

A natural Forest or Jungle is a collection of plants in all parts of their life cycle. Simple math tells me that they don't absorb net carbon.

Unless we're talking about a swamp that is in the process of storing young hydrocarbons (there's a word for them, IIRC the Okefenokee is a rare example). The carbon has to go somewhere.

Tree farms on the other hand 'sequester' carbon in the form of building material and paper. Neither of which are going to last any significant geological time. Then again if we continue to build new McMansions faster then the old ones fall down there should be a carbon sink in the 'burbs.

Step 1. City makes a law that all new construction use more wood then the structure it replaces.
Step 2. Sell carbon offsets for the net increase in Carbons share of wood weight
Step 3. Profit!

I'm doing that wrong. That's an actual business model, the only thing missing is customers dumb enough. This is America. Viola, an actual business model (we will sell to the French).

How do you say 'Lumber Waster Carbon Credit' in frog?

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405446)

You mean Voila (there it is) not Viola, a chubby violin.

Re:Trees (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405598)

You will never catch me using the french language correctly.

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405982)

Hey, you're one of those guys still saying "Freedom fries!" How are the other three?

Re:Trees (4, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405240)

It's important to note that the North American forests were not "pristine" when the white folks showed up. The people who had lived there for a few thousand years had practiced some fairly sophisticated forest management. For instance, they would regularly clear undergrowth to make it easier to travel and hunt, and put significant effort into managing herd sizes. They also cleared some spaces for agriculture, which the Pilgrims in particular took advantage of when they went to set up their own colony.

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405306)

A roughly one acre section of my yard has about 1 tree per 10 ft radius. All of the trees are about 75 feet tall or larger and the only branches are the ones clear at the top as each tree fights for direct light, they look like telephone poles with a small canopy top. The new comers are all about 5-10 feet tall and stragly looking things and grow EXTREMELY slow. Around the edge is some pines and the deciduous ones near the edge are all twisted and angled or only have branches on the light side as they fight with the pines.

Where am I going with this story? Not sure. I have spaced out older larger trees in other areas of my yard that are extremely large and round and although they are single trees, they take up much more "leaf space" then probably 10 of the really tall ones packed in i have in the other part of my yard.

No love for linux (0, Offtopic)

vivin (671928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405000)

I tried to view the demonstration.

"Google Earth Plugin is only available on Windows and Mac OS X 10.4+"

I guess I'm SOL.

Re:No love for linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405320)

how is this offtopic, mods. Maybe someone can provide a link to a video?

Re:Trees (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405060)

[Citation needed]

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405414)

Yeah, but they chopped down almost all the big ones.

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405442)

That's one tree for every 198 sq ft. That's a pretty small tree. I wonder how big those previous 8 trees were?

Re:Trees (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405452)

That may be, but the species diversity of the trees planted has to be taken into account as well. 8 trees of a different species each are more valuable to the ecosystem than 220 trees of only 2 or 3 different species.

Re:Trees (1)

nature_geek (1280632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405468)

I don't know whether your numbers are correct. However, even assuming that they are, turns out that the "number of trees" is a terribly poor metric for describing the value of the ecosystem services provided by a forest or a landscape. Larges trees are more valuable than small trees. Dead trees, snags and fallen logs remaining in the forest (which rarely exist in post-logging landscapes) are often structurally more important to the forest than half of the living trees remaining there.

Just saying...

Re:Trees (1)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30406052)

Question... I've seen some old-growth trees in New York's Adirondack Mountains (and elsewhere) that are 200+ years old ... their diameter is more than the reach of my arms. Meanwhile, all the trees in more recently-logged areas, which are maybe 50 or 80 years old, or less, are much, much smaller. Do the bigger, older trees do more for the environment? Or do the smaller trees make up for it in volume?

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30404702)

And how will those who have previously already seen immense evidence of deforestation, countless images of destroyed forests, be affected by this?

North American Reforestation. (5, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404708)

The original poster wishes he could see North America before the logging industry swept in. Around 30-50 years ago, his intuition would have been rewarded. But, for the last decades, much of the United States has actually been reforested, rather than deforested. The reasons for this are complex and mixed, but some factors include the original mills going out of business in the Northeastern USA, adoption of better forestry practices, a reversion of farmland to homesites - which invariably means planting even more trees, and so on.

Indeed, Americans have been catching something of a break as they have planted so many trees that North America would be a net carbon sink, if they didn't also drive so many cars. This picture changes as all the new trees mature and their carbon uptake decreases. But, the important lesson here is that while Americans might be bad about CO2 emissions, they have, in their own way, also showed how areas can be reforested, that were once barren.

Re:North American Reforestation. (1)

Sunda666 (146299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404764)

good to know. OTOH, here in the south the chainsaws are always busy. cheers

Re:North American Reforestation. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405090)

Trees don't remove CO2 from the atmosphere in any permanant way.

Half the CO2 the take in during the day is put back out at night, and the rotting foliage put it's CO2 back into the air.

That said, it's not like planting trees in the US will compensate for the rainforest's loss. Thats like saying poking holes in your body make up for the loss of your lungs.

Re:North American Reforestation. (4, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405294)

Trees don't remove CO2 from the atmosphere in any permanant way.

If you go from 0 trees, to 1 tree that you replant every time the old one dies then you have removed 1 trees worth of carbon from the air as long as you keep a tree growing.

If you go from 0 trees to 1 tree that you harvest every time it is fully grown and use the wood in building a house or some other permanent structure and keep replanting that tree every 10-15 years then you are removing 1 tree's worth of carbon from the atmosphere every 10-15 years.

It is only if you plant a tree and let it die and decompose and plant no additional trees that your example holds.

Re:North American Reforestation. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405540)

That said, it's not like planting trees in the US will compensate for the rainforest's loss. Thats like saying poking holes in your body make up for the loss of your lungs.

Planting trees in the USA could compensate for the rainforest loss, if we did indeed plant enough. This would be a massive terraforming project in the Southwestern USA, for sure, but, it certainly could be done.

Re:North American Reforestation. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405656)

That said, it's not like planting trees in the US will compensate for the rainforest's loss. Thats like saying poking holes in your body make up for the loss of your lungs.

That's a dumb metaphor and you should know it. It's a modest compensation. It's more like losing a million bucks, then getting a few tens of thousands of it back. It's replacing some part of what is lost.

As an aside, I wonder how much reforestation goes on in the tropics. As far as I know, there isn't a lot of deliberate reforestation, but there is a bit of letting the land go back to jungle.

Re:North American Reforestation. (1)

MikeV (7307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405812)

Most if not nearly all of the dry weight of trees is carbon. As the tree grows, it increases weight, which is carbon. There is a portion of the carbon that cycles as the tree loses and grows leaves, but the benefit is in the sequestering of the carbon in it's woody structure that will remain sequestered for centuries if not millennia. If the tree falls down and rots, the released carbon will get re-sequestered in the wood of the seedlings that will replace that tree. If the tree is cut down and milled into lumber, that is countless tons of carbon sequestered within the very walls of the homes we reside in - some lasting for decades, others for hundreds of years. Scrap from construction as well as from demolished homes that get stuffed into a landfill will remain there without noticeable decomposition for centuries. We may not be balancing out the carbon released from coal fired power plants and vehicles and, of course, from natural phenomena that releases the lions share of carbon, but the forestry cycle and increasing forested is helping at least and certainly not hurting.

Re:North American Reforestation. (1)

Dalzhim (1588707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405628)

I can easily have the amount of trees grow in my own yard when I use wood chopped down from my neighbour's trees to keep my fireplace filled up. The point being, we don't care about the amount of trees in the US alone if the amount of trees worldwide is declining.

Re:North American Reforestation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405850)

Indeed, Americans have been catching something of a break as they have planted so many trees that North America would be a net carbon sink, if they didn't also drive so many cars.

To me that sounds like "Americans have recently planted a lot of trees, but not enough to make up for their car emissions."

Oregon (5, Interesting)

fwarren (579763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404730)

We have more trees here in Oregon now than were here 100 years ago or even 200 years ago. (Unlike nature, we don't let forest fires burn them down.)

We plant them all over the place and take care of them. Every time we cut one tree down, we plant 3 to 10 more of them.

We really are not deforested to the west of the Mississippi. Now east of the Mississippi is a different story. But no one is talking about deforestation on the east coast. They only talk about it out west where we have plenty of trees to go around.

School kids went out 30 years ago on filed trips here in Oregon to plant trees. Why? As a reminder that most of the income in this state came from logging, and that timber was a renewable resource. If we plant trees today, then in 20 years when you are old enough to work a timber job, there will be plenty of trees to cut down.

I live in a county that has been devastated by the loss of 80% of the logging industry. We have as many trees now as we had 30 years ago. The only difference is we have 15% unemployment and we can't cut and replant trees to actually make a living.

Earth first -- we will log the rest of the planets later

Re:Oregon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30404812)

Every time we cut one tree down, we plant 3 to 10 more of them.

Sounds rather Maddox-ian.

Re:Oregon (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404958)

I'd say east of the Mississippi is pretty heavily forested too. I can't help but wonder how much carbon dioxide is being removed from the atmosphere because of forests. I wonder if there are any metrics because it seems like any news posted about the environment is invariably negative.

Re:Oregon (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405082)

Forests don't remove as much as you might think--although it is significant for above the surface, most of the work is actually done by sea life as I understand it.

Re:Oregon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405008)

Here in the Wash DC area, we cut down woods for housing developments and new highways. Clearing away acres of woods, and then replanting a dozen or so new trees here and there, doesn't mean we have more forests. I'm glad that trees are being replanted, but I think people are playing around with the definition of what constitutes a "forest".

Re:Oregon (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405032)

"The only difference is we have 15% unemployment and we can't cut and replant trees to actually make a living"

what does that mean?

Also, forest fires don't burn down forests.

"Every time we cut one tree down, we plant 3 to 10 more of them."

Cite needed.

"They only talk about it out west where we have plenty of trees to go around."
there is a reason for that, it's called 'shifting baseline'. Basically it mean that people who grow up where there aren't trees have no reference to go by to realize there should be trees.

In Oregon people cans ee the fantastic forests, and when they start to diminish they say something.

Careful citing logging industry stats, they ahve a tendency to be massively incorrect.

For example, According to the Labor dept.there are only about 8000 worker in the logging industry, but they would have you believe there are 100K +.

Re:Oregon (1)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405150)

Another interesting point, a vast majority of loggers have been removed by the logging industry itself by optimizing them out through automation. While the price of wood keeps going up, they keep trimming work practices to improve their margins.

If anyone really cared about putting loggers to work, they would found a company that used selective logging as opposed to creating the giant swaths of clear-cutting you see throughout Washington just outside the shallow strip of trees they leave beside the road. (just look at a satellite photo for evidence).

Re:Oregon (1)

VoxMagis (1036530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405590)

Actually, speaking from my own life here in Oregon, there are so many complexities to this issue.

I once truly believed we should stop clear-cutting and only allow select cut. I still do to some extent, but then the question becomes where do we sell that wood? The forestry industry has changed their cutting and added more machines and less men not just because of the cost (including liability, which is HUGE) but also to be able to compete with cheap lumber from around the world.

Then you go to Coos Bay and watch them dump wood chips into container ships for Asia and wonder where the mill jobs are.

I don't have a good answer. I know that this state was dependant for it's livelihood on timber at one time, and those times are gone. I just don't really know if we have enough left of anything else. It's sad - I consider it a beautiful place to live, yet we may be paying too much of a cost.

Re:Oregon (1)

fwarren (579763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405780)

What does it mean?

It means that when the big "spotted owl" controversy of the early 90's happened and the temporary injunctions on logging went into place, logging stopped and mills shut down.

If the mills had not shut down and went out of business due to the lack of trees and those mills were still in place, we would have an unemployment rate down below 5%.

I am going to college to improve my skills. Almost everyone else there over the age of 30 is someone who has lost their job due to layoffs in the logging industry due to reductions in logging OR are people who were loggers, lost their jobs 10, 15 or 20 years ago, were retrained in some other professions and lost those jobs due to the market.

I am not going to spend an hour googling out reports, old articles, etc. When I make a statement like "most users I have introduced to linux like it better than windows", it is a statement of personal experience and may not apply elsewhere or is a good indicator that Microsoft will die overnight.

However, when I say back in 1989 the town I lived in had 4 mills, and between 1989 and 1994 that number dropped to 1 mill and that it was related directly to the ban on logging related to the "spotted owl" nonsense. That is a different story. I don't feel compelled to prove there were 4 mills.

There are more than 8000 workers in the logging industry. It is not just people cutting down trees (loggers). The trukers who haul those trees. It is all the mill workers who cut the wood, the workers who keep the equipment going, etc. It is why we refer to it as "The Timber Industry"

Re:Oregon (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405122)

Actually under Carbon Emissions restrictions passed in Europe, coal burning plants are burning wood pellets that are seen as carbon neutral. Many of the wood pellets burned in Europe come from the SouthEast US. The author of the BBC article I was reading this in wondered how long the united states will continue to ship wood pellets to Europe when it enacts its own Cap and Trade restrictions.

The wood pellets can be made from young or old trees, sawdust, trimmings, scraps, wood pulp, anything.

Likewise China has severe restrictions on logging, in China. Furniture made there now is made from wood harvested legally and illegally in other Asian countries.

Re:Oregon (2, Interesting)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405174)

We have more trees here in Oregon now than were here 100 years ago or even 200 years ago. (Unlike nature, we don't let forest fires burn them down.)

Well, it helps that Oregon has rain 60% of the time throughout the year. In California the state has to do controlled burning to limit the damage a wildfire might cause. Plus Oregon's heavy rain system makes it easier to grow plants there; the only other place I've seen that has the same capacity have been the Hawaiian islands. Those benefit from frequent rains and fertility from volcanic soil. But, overall you make a good point. Planting more trees than you cut down leads to a more sustainable and pretty environment.

Re:Oregon (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405472)

Actually, a lot of the area east of the Mississippi is doing pretty well on that front as well. Thanks in no small part to the conservationist types and Teddy Roosevelt, while most of the old growth forests are gone, a lot of new forests have grown up. For instance, New England went from almost completely forested to 30% forested, and is now 80% forested.

before the logging industry swept in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30404740)

Before the beaver swept in.

Before the native americans swept in.

Before the farmers swept in.

Before the home builders swept in.

Should we go back to europe? And africa?

Pre-Logging Industry Maps (3, Informative)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404754)

"If only satellite data of North America existed before the logging industry swept in!"

Not from a satellites, but there are some maps. For example: http://www.esd.ornl.gov/projects/qen/nercNORTHAMERICA.html [ornl.gov]

Note the complete lack of forests over most of NA about 15,000 years ago.

or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Interior_Seaway [wikipedia.org]

Not much forest under the ocean bits.

oh jeez.... (0)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404824)

If only satellite data of North America existed before the logging industry swept in!

If you look at North America, the forests didn't disappear because of logging, suburbia expanded into, through, and right past the forests. Population growth will destroy every inch of nature.

But by all means, blame the "evil logging industry" like you don't use paper or live in a building that required wood or space to build it. And if you had over 2 kids, it really is YOUR fault.

Re:oh jeez.... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405986)

Suburbia mostly gobbles up farmland.

Farmland just happens to be great for building on. If a state is settled enough to be more than just a "glorified territory" then the prime land that someone like you would claim as forest would likely already be very well established farmland. Some enterprising young chap 100 or 200 years ago would have already gotten rid of the trees.

Suburbia cuts into agriculture, not "nature".

Demoed? (2, Informative)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404840)

Demolished or demonstrated? Maybe some Googelian combination of the two?

fwarren: I believe fighting natural forest fires has proven to be policy error. For a citation please see the burning of Custer State Park. There are no more Smokey the Bear commercials because forest fires are actually necessary to prevent catastrophic fires. From what I remember reading, the 40+ years of Smokey the Bear campaigning, and fire fighting left MILLIONS of tons of fuel in the form of old dead timber.

I guess I'm just trying to point out that while some of Oregon's other forestry programs might be a benefit, fighting forest fires for decades can and has lead to a catastrophe.

Re:Demoed? (1)

fwarren (579763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405084)

I did not say it was a good thing, I was merely siting it as a factor in why we have more trees.

I believe the longer we go not cutting down trees, and clearing underbrush and just letting forests grow and grow doing everything we can to keep from letting them burn. We should be able to log and remove old dead growth. We are just making sure that eventually we will have a forest fire so big we won't be able to stop it.

People in the timber industry want to cut down trees now (and remove the old dead ones) AND make sure there are healthy forests later so they can continue to cut down trees. It is not the timber industry that is for NOT removing that deadwood. It is the environmentalists.

Re:Demoed? (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405784)

I did not say it was a good thing, I was merely siting it as a factor in why we have more trees.

I believe the longer we go not cutting down trees, and clearing underbrush and just letting forests grow and grow doing everything we can to keep from letting them burn. We should be able to log and remove old dead growth. We are just making sure that eventually we will have a forest fire so big we won't be able to stop it.

People in the timber industry want to cut down trees now (and remove the old dead ones) AND make sure there are healthy forests later so they can continue to cut down trees. It is not the timber industry that is for NOT removing that deadwood. It is the environmentalists.

I agree and I think it is rather sad that those environmentalists actually believe they know how to grow a healthy forest better than nature itself. Natural fires being a part of that healthiness. In fact I know of at least 1 tree (the Jack pine) that needs a forest fire to procreate.

Re:Demoed? (1)

smashin234 (555465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405334)

The Smokey the Bear campaign still lives, although its much more minor today then it used to be. The reason is that forest fires are bad that are not planned out in advance...You see our Forestry department (which my father worked for) started their own fires to clear out fire causing underbrush, and to create fire breaks so to speak back in the day. They today also use controlled burning to further help forests along, but never do they want people to start fires....You insinuated that in your comment, and uncontrolled fires are fought very aggressively and to this day fire-fighters for the forestry department lose their lives to protect people from these fires.

There is no catastrophe as you say, and the rule is that they still fight fires to prevent them from getting too large. The reason being none other then the fact that if the fire gets too large it destroys the ecosystem whereas a smaller fire will simply plant the seeds for a new stronger and vibrant forest.

Yellowstone is also a case in point of a catastrophe, but that thought is now in the past and today fires and their benefits to nature are more understood. You find more issues with fires when people plant plants that are not native to the area, a drought occurs, and of course its prime material for a large fire around civilization. We hear about this all the time in California....

The bigger issue in Oregon and Washington is the remnants of old logging camps that left underbrush so thick that forests couldn't come back. Over the years, this has been burnt off or otherwise cleared out to make way for new forests....That is the largest issue in Oregon is bringing back those old areas that to this day are still remnants of lumbering practices back before Teddy R....

Can the demo this? (0, Flamebait)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404962)

The global systematic destruction of human rights in so-called democracies or republics?

That would be a much more telling demo, I am quite certain.

Or, even better, the systematic economic destruction being done by central banks and the IMF?

Let's stop using toilet paper. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405046)

Most paper today goes towards making toilet paper. Are they seriously suggesting that we stop wiping the shit from our asses, and instead just leave it there to fester and become a health hazard?

It sounds like a no-win situation. On one hand, we'll need to make direct contact with our feces to save the forests. On the other hand, we won't properly dispose of our fecal waste, and this will lead to health complications.

The evidence has been there all along (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405096)

I can recall using Google Earth shortly after it was first released to zoom around the earth, randomly poking at it with a stick. I was looking for anything that seemed to stand out, and I found quite a number of unique things in those days: weird geologic features in Brunei/Sarawak, the salt flats in the Andes, the gold/minerals rush in the Atacama desert.

One of them was obvious overhead evidence of clear-cutting in southwest Australia. I've always had a silent fantasy about moving to Australia, believing it to be some sort of relative Utopia where things like resource mismanagement and government abuses didn't happen. The discovery of that clear-cutting FROM ORBIT was the beginning of the end of my fantasy.

We can fix this! (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405134)

We must think BIG and GLOBAL like GOOGLE! We will launch saplings into orbit on vast arks and scattershot them into the ground, thusly reforesting the world! Mwa ha ha! We call it the Forest Continuity Project and pay for it with lumber credits and carbon back bearer bonds and the illegal unicorn horn trade out of Romania! Yes, most of the trees will shatter on impact and fail to achieve a planted state, but if just one tree saves just one child then $50 trillion is worth it! Follow me, boys, into the glorious future and let the trees rain down o'er me!

Re:We can fix this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405578)

Ok, getting beaned by the hypersonic saplings, I'll take the risk. But whoever gets hit by Louie, is gonna be smished. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067756/)

Breathless summary (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405260)

The summary gets a little carried away. Google is basically offering cheap (or free) satellite imagery combined with cheap access to existing software and computing power. It's a good, socially responsible project on Google's part, but it's not the breakthrough in image processing that the summary implies.

"It's interesting to contemplate the implications for intelligence gathering of Google's automated tools to compare satellite photos."

The people who do serious, large scale, satellite intelligence gathering don't need Google's satellite imagery or their free computing capability.

Stop using trees for paper - use hemp! (1, Insightful)

minion (162631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405270)

Seriously, we want to slow down deforestation? Stop using trees for paper products. The US needs to get over their high and mighty "We can't use hemp because its taboo" crap.

Re:Stop using trees for paper - use hemp! (1, Insightful)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405648)

What taboo? It's arrest and jail time that deters most people.

Re:Stop using trees for paper - use hemp! (2, Interesting)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405748)

Seriously, we want to slow down deforestation? Stop using trees for paper products. The US needs to get over their high and mighty "We can't use hemp because its taboo" crap.

I was going to reply with a highly sarcastic rebuttal, but closer inspection shows that you may be right.

Wikipedia reckons hemp grows at 'up to' 25 tonnes/hectare/year of dry above ground matter. This [greenwoodresources.com] gives 'up to' 13 tonnes/hectare/year for fancy 'high yield' hybrid poplar, intended for papermaking.

There is a huge amount of wiggle room with those figures, 'up to' is often meaningless (I'm going to give you 'up to' 100 billion dollars) and both sources are doubtless from organisations trying to promote their different 'crops'. Also theres the problem of how much actual paper you get from a tonne of almost-unspecified plant material respectively for each crop, and the required fertiliser and labour inputs etc etc.

I would also wich to point out that despite my name on here I'm usually very skeptical of "HEMP: The Wonder Plant!" type suggestions (even though I do approve of one particular use of certain varieties, at least).

Show the destruction of forest fires (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30405274)

How about before and after photos for forest fires. Then we can see that leaving a forest completely to itself can cause more harm than selectively harvesting it. It's the same reason we hunt deer in the Midwest. If we don't they'll over-populate and cause problems to the ecosystem.

Re:Show the destruction of forest fires (1)

AkiraRoberts (1097025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405910)

Which is why, of course, those forests were lucky that we came along to save them from themselves. Good lord, imagine if humanity hadn't shown up? Why, we might have had a global firestorm reducing all around to barren waste within the next 2 or 3 hundred million years.

There's more to the story (2, Interesting)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405284)

Just as long as people keep in mind that satellite photos don't always tell the whole story. A team of Canadian scientists went north recently in an ice breaker. Satellite imagery indicted that the pack ice had expanded rather than contracted, which was totally at odds with Global Warming models.

What they found when they actually got to the location where the satellites indicated the pack ice started, it wasn't there. It had retreated more than a hundred miles beyond where it was thought to be. The satellite cameras had been looking at a slurry of rotted ice fragments that were so broken up the ship just blasted through them at full speed without even noticing it.

Basically, the reality on the ground was very different from what appeared to be happening on cameras located a few miles overhead.

There's also an undocumented feature.. (1)

billrp (1530055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405388)

..that can show what egg will look like on alarmists' faces in a few years..

I hate alarmists. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405690)

But single-species tree cultivation is not forest! Not even close. It's cultivation which does not tolerate all the other aspects of a forest ecosystem. You can't really compare commercially farmed trees to an actual forest. It's disingenuous.

And another thing... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405522)

If you update/install Google Earth, you're also going to get a semi-stealth install of the Chrome browser to go along with it...whether you like it or not. The first time I noticed Google was trying to shove Chrome down my throat was AFTER I'd already initiated an update installation of GE.

So be warned...if you don't want a little something extra with GE, you'd better skip this update.

I hope this extends back 1000 years (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405572)

Because it is only by doing that that we will get an accurate picture of where we are at now,
and how significant any further changes one way or the other are.

For example, I'd guess three quarters of the UK, continental Europe, and the Americas were forested at
that time, with the remainder being grasslands and mountaintops.

The challenge of global environmental issues is that they are enormous in both geography
and time, and both of those scale problems make them difficult for us to plan for, understand
economically, and solve. We have no problem at all causing unintended consequences at global
and century scales, but so far have not been able to cause any intended consequences on systems
at these scales.

wtf??!! (1)

e-scetic (1003976) | more than 4 years ago | (#30405996)

First hundred or so responses to the OP don't seem to like his lamenting that there's no satellite data showing the forest situation in the US, are busy asserting that there are more trees than ever before (with nary a citation or link in sight to reinforce this claim, but I guess that's because there's no comparative satellite data available...?), and I get the overall impression they really don't appreciate Google putting out this capability either, or the OP reporting it. Clampdown in effect, in other words.
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