The Obama Administration's decision today to open Alaska's Tongass National Park for logging is, in my opinion, the first major blunder of their tenure. This is one of America's last outposts, a pristine environment that should be protected in perpetuity. While Alaskan Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich approved the decision, claiming it will create jobs for underemployed loggers, it does little to address the major issues at stake here, namely biodiversity, global climate change, and the preservation of our natural resources. Much of the world's rainforest has either been destroyed or is endangered, for short-term economic gain, and the United States must lead here by example and find better ways to employ our work force.
The notion that we can simply turn a blind eye to pressing environmental issues feels like a carryover from the Orwellian practices of the last administration. During the past three decades, our logging policies in this country led to the decimation of our forests in the Pacific Northwest, when corporate raiders like Charles Hurwitz bought up logging rights and wiped out entire groves of old growth. This hideous example of mismanagement was done in the name of economics. The Pacific Lumber Company, which Hurwitz bought, had been a self-sustaining operation for over 100 years, privately owned by proud stewards of the forest. And when they sold, not only did their ethos of sustainability fall by the wayside, so did their way of life.
It is time to recognize that if man and nature are to live together in harmony, we must treat our forests as the treasures they are. They are the lungs of the planet. The Obama Administration must take the lead role here by example, treading gently if the rest of the world's governments are to follow.
Profits come and go; our resources to not.