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There. I’ve said it. I’ll say it again. Save a tree is stupid.

Over the last 15-20 years we’ve heard that phrase a lot. We’ve heard the term “dead tree edition” for a printed version of a document or book. We’ve been bombarded with the idea that not using paper will save the planet.

It is just plain wrong. Here’s why:

Paper, as we all know, grows on trees. Ok, it doesn’t really grow on trees, but you get my point. Paper comes from trees. Trees are one of the most fantastic crops we have:

  • Trees are renewable
  • Forests aren’t monoculture
  • Forests need to be managed but they do not need to be sprayed with pesticides (usually) or fertilized.
  • Forests support all sorts of wildlife
  • Forests support human recreational activities
  • Trees sequester carbon (if you believe carbon in the atmosphere is a problem)
  • Trees are pretty
  • Things made from trees are pretty

The Scandinavians, particularly the Finns, and the Canadians have been harvesting their forests for generations. Are those countries clear-cut? No. Do they clear cut? Sometimes (it depends on the forest being managed and the particular circumstances).

The point is that trees are a great renewable resource that ought be exploited. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace (who left because it was taken over by communists) has said:

I believe that trees are the answer to a lot of questions about our future. These include: How can we advance to a more sustainable economy based on renewable fuels and materials? How can we improve literacy and sanitation in developing countries while reversing deforestation and protecting wildlife at the same time? How can we pull carbon out of the atmosphere and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emissions, carbon dioxide in particular? How can we increase the amount of land that will support a greater diversity of species? How can we help prevent soil erosion and provide clean air and water? How can we make this world more beautiful and green? The answer is, by growing more trees and then using more wood, both as a substitute for non-renewable fossil fuels and materials such as steel, concrete and plastic, and as paper products for printing, packaging and sanitation. [Much more here…]

I recommend you spend some time at Patrick Moore’s web site Greenspirit. He’s a true environmentalist who cares deeply for the forests and the trees.

The next time you hear “Save a tree” please reply “Paper does grow on trees. We can always plant more.”

UPDATE: Let me be clear. I’m not for destruction of forests. I don’t think that the rain forest is destroyed to provide additional grazing land or firewood. I don’t think clear cutting for the sake of short term gain is right. Forests are a resource to be managed. Well managed forests will provide wood resources to us indefinitely. Key term: Well Managed.