Remember when being "earth-friendly" was all about litter? Don't get me wrong, I hate litter and don't know how people can just throw trash from their car, but when it comes to being earth-friendly the bar has been raised. Keep America Beautiful has been replaced with Stop Global Warming.
As a cause, litter does have one big advantage over other environmental causes - its visible. We see litter along the roadside and it reminds us we have a litter problem. Signs along the highway read Please Don't Litter or $250 Fine For Littering. Melting glaciers or declining air quality aren't nearly as visible.
Out of sight, out of mind - isn't that the saying? This old saying certainly relates to today's environmental challenges. How many of us have actually seen where a forest once stood that was cleared to build houses? When I see lumber ads why don't they ever show me the land that was cleared to produce 2x4s? Probably not the best visual image to promote their product I'll grant you that, but I'm guessing its also not something their proud of. We become upset when a few trees are cleared to make way for a new subdivision but don't give much thought about the 2.3 acres cleared to produce lumber to build each house.
So the question I have is simple. Is this the best we can do in 2008? With all of the technology and building science available today, is clearing old growth trees is still our best option? The answer is no. There are newer products readily available that outperform wood in every important category including price, but we continue building with wood. Why?
There's another old saying - the 8 most expensive words in business today are "because we have always done it this way" and I think the same saying can be applied to our environment. Unless we stop following in the footsteps of those before us, and start to make better decisions in the materials we use, future generations will be left to clean up the mess we made of this planet.
What's even more confusing, at least to me, is that we're willing to harvest trees that represent our most effective way to absorb literally tons of CO2 from the atmosphere for lumber. Lumber that that frankly doesn't even perform all that well as a building material. It burns, rots, warps, attracts insects, decomposes, promotes mold and is a lousy insulator. What's the big attraction? Man do I miss litter.
Thanks for visiting.