The article I chose was found in the National Post, dated February 9th, 2005. It was written by Tzeporah Berman, who is the program director of ForestEthics. The article takes the form of a counterpoint and is titled, “Threat to boreal forest is very real”. The author is responding to an editorial criticism made against environmentalists by Peter Foster concerning the economic principles of Adam Smith, and their applicability in forest management practices.
The author presents the concerns and claims of environmentalism from a view to demonstrating their economic value in a context broader than the interests of short-term profits. She points out that trees are a “natural capital” providing essential services not only to humans but also to other forms of life, as well as to the earth itself. She addresses the need to recycle more, emphasizing the growing potential market for environmentally-friendly products. Such an industry, she suggests, ought not only target “niche markets” but should, in fact, become a new norm in order to reduce costs of production and increase consumer access.
Boreal forest in Canada is of particular importance in climate control, Ms. Berman notes, as it stores around 10% of the earth's terrestrial carbon. That reform in Canadian logging practice is needed is shown by the shocking statistic that five acres of this precious resource are cleared every minute. Permanent protection of Canadian boreal forest covers only 6% of trees at present.
The article continues by challenging logging industry's claims not to represent an intrusion into the natural habitat of wildlife. Specifically, the caribou are addressed as a breed recently placed on the list of threatened species. Their natural habitat, the author contends, has been reduced by 50% by logging, and their numbers continue to decline.
Ms. Berman suggests some practical corrective measures to bring Canadian practices up to a new standard. She commends certain logging companies for their commitment to participate in certification programs. She also makes note of the effort to respect the land rights of Aboriginal peoples, including a plan to bring 10 million acres of forest under protection as World Heritage Sites.
She finishes the article by highlighting the present opportunity to participate in conservation of boreal forest. Clearly more voices need to be heard and considered, suggests Ms. Berman, besides those of the logging companies. The value of the forest extends beyond simple economics.
The main argument in this article rests on extending the natural law principles represented by Adam Smith via the application of an ecological corrective. While older economic theories argued from an anthropocentric viewpoint, the new formula must account for the increased knowledge base available in the areas of global warming and the interdependency of all species.
Ms. Berman expands on the primitive pragmatism espoused in bygone days to include a consideration of higher orders of organization. Prior to this century, national economic policy was founded on narrower parameters. These may have been derived from a limited scriptural interpretation in European society giving a view of humankind as the centrepiece of creation. The advent of Darwinism gave rise to a broader picture, one that saw humanity in the context of natural processes. Here, links between species were established and the old ethic that placed humans as the crown of creation was challenged by a more longterm outlook that presented a tapestry of growing horizons.
Background now became a living organism in its own right, formed of a rich heritage of interwoven destinies creeping sporadically into the future with an infinite potential. Not just me and my but you and we.
Ms. Berman offers an enriched interpretation of the usual mundane investment-and-profit formula. Short-term gains are weighed against long-term costs in terms of previously-unmeasurable resources. Trees are shown to participate in an invisible economy of water purification, climate moderation and habitat provision. Knowledge of the other and a recognition of the inherent rights of all participants in the global project outweigh simpleminded dollar missense.
The selfish claims of industry are pitted against the higher laws of mother earth. She is shown to voice her pain through the loss of wildlife and the pollution of the water and air. She calls forth in the song of the Aboriginal peoples to recognize the strength of restraint. Preservation of the forest, we are exhorted, will ensure a more positive balance in the legacy we pass on to our children.
The values of interdependency and harmony will help to sensitize us to the very real crisis that the earth is facing today. Change is possible, but action is required on an individual basis. Preference for recycled products, participation in the legislative process and education for those responsible for weakening our natural resources are all necessary parts to play. If we hope to restrain the relentless march of man inherited from the past, we will need to redefine the narratives of our saga. We must emerge from the shadow which was man-against-nature to embrace what must be if we are to fulfill the promise that is project earth, for indeed, “All creation groans” together with expectation for that which is to come.
When the Voyager spacecraft reached the edge of the solar system it turned briefly to catch a glimpse of its cradle. The picture it sent back to earth was that of a “pale, blue dot” amidst an infinite background of stars and galaxies. In this ark we all share, the Divine Principle has chosen to grace us with its life-energies through the faces of one another. As our understanding grows towards ever-increasing integration we hear the call of the journey itself and pass on to the sanctity of greater and greater purpose.
Saint Francis took the command to preach to all creation to task and he found that other members of our family hear the song of the limitless. With love he tamed the wolf and dared to call him brother. So, too, should we approach the faces of the old world order and feed them from the fount of charity, knowing that she will guide them to streams of rest and contentment.
The imperative of progress will gave way to the natural flowering of the earth's own secret purpose. And we will share in the new horizon, no longer chief saint among sinners but in the participative expansiveness that is selflessness.