Editorial: Pre-apocalypse blues

by Andru McCracken


Broad leaf plants like this are the target of foresters who are trying to get their pine trees to ‘free-growing’ stage. /ANDRU MCCRACKEN

I love post-apocalyptic movies. If the premise is that the human population has been wiped out and only a few unlucky souls survive and have to use their wits to eke out a living, I’ll watch it.

I must have watched hundreds of films in this genre. When I browse Netflix for something new to watch, I just type “apocalypse” and see what comes up.

That’s what I want to watch. But it’s not what I want to live.

I want to live in a thriving and dynamic community full of music, art and nature.

In my ideal world people have decent work. They make enough to get by. They don’t stand by impoverished as resources leave the valley, their lives are enriched by them.

They have access to clean water and good food if they want it.

In my ideal world, people don’t make millions, they do okay. I want a place where my neighbours can survive and maybe thrive.

I want snow in the winter, rain in the spring, sun in the summer and some good early snow in the fall that sets up a firm base for the coming winter.

What I don’t want is to live on the set of a post apocalyptic movie. I don’t want to live on a scorched earth.

And I don’t want to spend four seasons breathing smoke, looking at the mountains through a haze.

It struck me this week that our teensy little valley may have a role to play in promoting an unscorched British Columbia.

As it turns out, the way that BC foresters have been managing Crown Land – our land – has been like a 1700s-era Irish potato field, blight be damned. BC foresters have been applying chemicals that kill anything with leaves. Often, it turns out, they spray from helicopters or planes.

People who are managing the forests have been actively destroying the species of trees that provides a natural fire break, that reflect more sunlight than pine monocultures and cool the forest, provide habitat for forest creatures. BC Foresters might be more aptly named professional conifer restockers.

As sawmills close and forest companies consolidate thanks to a changing climate and related pressures like the pine beetle and forest fires, let’s have a serious talk with government and industry about leaving deciduous stands for a cycle or two.

Can we continue to wipe out fire-resistant species of trees even while we spend billions on firefighting and battling climate change without addressing this simple thing?

If we don’t want a post-apocalyptic world, maybe we should dream up some ways to avoid, or at least not hasten, the apocalypse. It’s not how we want to live. I know, I’ve seen the movie.

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