Who is to blame for climate change? 

About a year ago I wrote that Europe was on fire. The situation this year is not much different. Reuters the other day reported that July -23 was the World’s hottest month ever. “The era of global boiling has arrived”, said U.N. Secretary-general António Guterres last Thursday. Depressing thoughts on a Monday morning. But how bad is it? When reading the daily news, it seems like we can start digging our graves right now. It makes you think … 

Who is to blame for climate change?

Digging when the soil is dry and hard is not so easy. So, maybe we could wait just a little bit before we start digging. On the other hand, when I started writing this article, a rain shower passed over my neighborhood. We in Sweden seem to be the lucky ones this time as the dry early summer now has turned into a rainy summer. On the news the other day, an Italian family visiting Sweden explained that they had fled home for the cool weather up north. A different type of vacation indeed. 

Log Max Harvester Heads
Lovely rain falling on my window. The paper mill across the lake almost disappears. Photo: Per Jonsson

Sweden is a small and, for the moment, rainy country. But in many parts of the World devastating wildfires are reported. Algeria, Tunisia, Canada, where they are running out of firefighters, and Greece, where they finally seem to get some of the fires under control, and many other places.  

Does it matter who is to blame? 

Well, when a fire is raging the priority must be to put it out to save lives and property. But then … to prevent it happens again the reason is good to find. In this case, however, it seems hard as the World doesn’t agree. Some say climate change is caused by humans, some say it’s natural cycles and that it has been hot also earlier in history, and yet another group sees no problems at all. It’s complicated … and interesting as no one seems to bother trying to see the whole picture. Everybody just sees it from their own perspective. 

To see the whole picture is not easy. When you search you find so much information that it’s almost impossible to figure out what is true and not. If there was only one person to blame it would have been easier – lock that person up, throw the key away, and keep living like before. But, of course, it’s not that simple. 

Experts and science

Somewhere among all the information “in the air” the truth is hidden. “The whole truth and nothing but the truth”. The problem is to sort it out. I’m not saying that people are lying. But it’s very common to choose the parts of the truth that suits your interests and not mention the rest of the truth. 

I am certainly no expert, but I have another advantage – I’m old. I have seen (in my neighborhood) how the climate has actually changed over the 40+ years I’ve been active in the forest. When I started in the early 80s, we built ice roads over wetlands for the forest machines. The winters here in south Sweden could be trusted between December and March, sometimes longer. That is not the case anymore. 

During the winter nowadays, the “winters” come and go several times. If it is frozen one week you can’t trust that it will stay that way a week later. This is one of the reasons why track manufacturers like Olofsfors have grown, and new ones have turned up. The forest must be harvested, in every weather.

So, there is no doubt in my mind that there is climate change going on. But why? That will be discussed for ages. 

What can we do? 

The brutal truth is that the environment and nature would do very much better if there were no humans around. After all, it’s us who screw things up. But to exterminate humanity would be to go a bit too far. 

For the moment I guess the only thing we can do is to continue fixing what we have broken even though the breakage seems to go on forever. I still like to think that we (the forestry people) sit on a large part of the solution. Most likely we must adapt our forest management methods more than we have done so far, but still – the raw material from the forest is good for the environment. 

The biggest challenge is to convince the public and the daily media that forestry is good – at least better than the alternatives, e.g., using mineral- and oil-based raw materials, such as stone, concrete, plastic, etc. 

We have a long way to go but we must not give in … 

Fighting the fire – an increasingly common task. Photo: Issy Bailey -Unsplash.com

Sources: Reuters and a long and hard life 

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