Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pulp facts

EconoSpeak has another post on the ongoing environmental destruction of Australia. We had commented on an earlier post about the fires that were raging at the time there, and the total lack of reporting on the reasons for the fires.

The technique for destroying their environment is simple, and profitable for the companies involved, not to mention the politicians on their payroll:
In Tasmania and large areas of mainland Australia the process goes something like this: First the native forests, including ancient stands of World Heritage value, are bulldozed to the ground. A tiny minority of the logs are used for furniture making, boat building and suchlike. Ninety percent of the logs that are harvested, however, are used for the conversion to woochip to make paper pulp for the commercial benefit of large transnational corporations [2]. The rest of the considerable biomass, as can be seen in the above image [3], is piled up and burnt using napalm dropped from helicopters. In this process hundreds of years of forest mulch is also incinerated and the top soil turns into baked brick. Local residents often choke on the thick plumes of smoke that emit from these gigantic industrial fires.

Monoculture bluegum trees are planted to replace the biodiverse forest. The industrial fire prevents the regeneration of unwanted (non-commercial) rainforest species. In turn, repeated industrial applications of 1080 poison kill off wildlife that may pose a threat to these small newly-planted monoculture saplings used to replace native flora.

Over the following 20 year life span of the industrial plantation there may be repeated aerial sprayings of cypermethrin and/or other toxic insecticides; and this occurs despite the placement of these industrial plantations in major water catchments and within and around rural communities across the state. Cursory and unreliable testing is done in major arterial streams where chemicals will be the most diluted. It is no coincidence then, that that the Australian state with by far the most intensive 'forestry' regime has the highest human cancer rate in the nation. Toxicological studies in Tasmanian devils, the platypus and other native mammals, unsurprisingly, reveals the presence of POPs including organo-chlorines, PCBs, furans and dioxins. [4]
The only remaining question is whether global capitalism will be able to save itself long enough to finish destroying the planet. Obama, Geithner and Bernanke will undoubtedly give it their best shot.


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