By Anne Petermann
Blog Post June 7th, 2010
Back home to our little cottage on the lake—back to the sanity of being surrounded by native forest instead of megalomaniacal bureaucrats intent on capitalizing off the rape and plunder of the earth under the auspices of climate mitigation.
First, of course, we had one last stop prior to boarding our respective planes and trains back to sanity—a presentation at the European Parliament in Brussels.
This time it was one of the Ministers of Parliament (MEP) responsible for implementing the European Union’s “renewable energy” target of 20% by 2020 that took issue with our analysis.
Once again it was Deepak’s presentation that was most hotly debated—perhaps because it best showed, through graphic photographs, the wholesale devastation of primeval rainforests for woodchips for export—the direct and indirect result of the EU’s desire to fulfill its renewable energy commitment by burning trees for electricity.
The MEP explained that we had limited choices—wood-based fuels (liquid and electric) or even worse options like nuclear power or large-scale hydroelectricity. To me this is a false dichotomy. It is not either burn trees or build nukes or flood rivers. The solution is to transform the way we live on this earth. The solution is to find the small-scale truly sustainable alternatives that make sense for each bioregion. The solutions for Vermont are not going to be the same as the solutions for Belgium. And the big magic bullet solutions do not exist. Forget about it. Technology and the markets are not going to save us from this mess—especially since they have contributed so significantly to it.
The faster we get over the idea of the imaginary single magic solution, the sooner we can dig in to the work at hand.
Here in the United States, the crisis of burning trees for electricity is a little closer to home—especially in those regions that still have some intact forest left—whether primary forest or second growth native forest, these forests are now under the gun. With plans for new biomass electricity plants popping up all over the place, and with the EU demand for trees leading to increased woodchip exports from the U.S., our forests are under threat like they haven’t been since the continent was first invaded by those white folks who’d already trashed their own forests.
And don’t forget the threat from genetically engineered trees! Eucalyptus and poplar trees are being avidly engineered to provide better agrofuels (liquid transport fuels) and faster growing biomass. And it’s the Gulf Coast states where these Franken-eucalyptus plantations are planned to be developed.
So, while it was good to spend time with allies in Europe, and we had many important meetings about international forest policy and GE trees, it was really good to finally get back home to our office in Vermont where we are developing strategies to take on ArborGen and defeat their plans for vast industrial plantations of non-native, invasive, water depleting and flammable eucalyptus trees.
GJEP Co-Director Orin Langelle and I have collectively been working to protect forests and the rights of forest-dependent peoples for close to 50 years. This is one forest fight that we cannot, we will not, lose.