Response to patterns discussion list on china and forests
I have in the past referred to the work of Immanuel Wallerstein. He describes the conditions for rapid economic growth as access to an urbanizing population and access to forests.
China proves the point again. Read the other day that China is using half the globally traded wood, and running into all sorts of snags because of how much of it is cut and imported illegally. Chinese consumption (and re-export of finished products) is driving deforestation all across the tropics and in Siberia.
Australia is serving the iron craving of China, and seems to do it willingly, but the people feeding the forest craving are most definitely not willing sacrifices. People who are trying to save the forest are being killed by corporate thugs and being sent to jail by governments around the world while deforestation becomes more devastating.
It is going to be critical to rein in China’s wood consumption and require that wood feeding it be harvested sustainably and in a fair trade mode if we are to not wipe out the forest people of the planet. Unfortunately nearly every government is filled with people ready to sell out the forest and its people for a little bit of money.
I had a friend from Cambodia who tried to get me to go there to help him stop the corrupt generals selling off the forest to China.
Reminds me of the Rhode Island merchants of the 19th century damming the rivers both for water power to run the mills, but also because they knew if they cut off the fish runs the farmers would no longer be able to practice subsistence farming in the hills and would come to town to work in the mill.
Being Thanksgiving day in the US I will remind everyone of the native people of eastern Massachusetts showing the Pilgrims how to put fish in each corn hill. European transplants retained the practice when they drove the natives off the land, and it persisted until the mill owners put in dams to end the runs and drive the white folks off the land too.
So the patterns, economies industrialize and grow when they can drive rural folk off the land resulting in land to take, forests to cut and proletariats to work in the factory. And when it all runs out, which is happening in more places faster than ever, the oligarchy thrashes about ever faster to suck in more and more resources, eventually turning the economy into a casino as the only way to feed them fast enough. Then we occupy the public squares and throw the bums out or they mow down enough of us to hold on a little longer.
I am guessing the Communist Party of China is praying very hard they can hold on to the mandate of heaven when the real estate bubble bursts and the floods destroy another crop.