In our recent discussions, the timber industry (or wood products) industry has been called the “logging industry,” at least by Matthew. I first became fascinated by what industries are OK environmentally and which not, when I worked on an assignment with the Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Clinton Administration. I was the Science Lead on a CEQ/OSTP Interagency effort to review US regulation of genetically engineered organisms released into the environment.
At the same time, the 2000 Planning Rule was being cleared and I helped folks at OMB to understand the rule. It seemed at the time the timber industry on public lands was questionable from the environmental perspective, but the biotech industry was not particularly questioned, even the mild recommendations of our team did not go forward. I remember the meeting where we presented our findings to George Frampton, the Chair of CEQ at the time. Many of us were surprised that “environmentalism” was strong in some areas, and weak in other areas. I also thought the role of the science community was an interesting contrast, since the “listened to” scientists thought logging was harmful to the environment, but that ge organisms were harmless and in fact, the salvation of the future. We can still see that today. Clearly the same scientists can’t know about both (well I know something about both, but I am not among the “listened to” scientists. How governments choose to partition their environmental inclinations across industries would be worthy of some graduate student studies.
I wondered why one industry was so important and the other rejection-worthy. I had a variety of hypotheses, of course
1) who donated to the campaign
2) the amount of bucks generated
3) did not capture the attention of environmental groups to the same extent (or not as effectively).
In Colorado, we had a curmudgeonly wonderful columnist named Ed Quillen, who used to refer to “the Committee that really runs America”. I can only guess that the timber industry had a falling out with the Committee at some point, while the biotech industry did not.
Sometimes I wonder whether folks project all their guilt about using resources onto one convenient industry. so we do not examine the semiconductor industry or the medical equipment industry, (or even agriculture) with the same fine-toothed environmental comb.
Anyway, if we could talk about an industry who provides products for people by their extraction techniques rather than the products they produce, let’s think about that:
I just got back from the family place in western Kansas, so we can think of wheat and field crop farming as “the cutting industry” as in Custom “Cut”ters or “cut”ting hay.
We could think of vegetable growing as the “picking” industry. Or oil and gas as the “drilling” industry. Sometimes we talk about coal as the “mining industry” but mostly the “coal” industry. Now we have molybdenum and other mines in Colorado, so we call those the “mining industry”, perhaps because if you are mining these other minerals than energy, there are so many of them.
So let’s look at solar industry might be the “cell manufacturing” industry. Wind might be the “turbine manufacturing” industry. I just think it’s interesting how people talk about these things, with my concern being that talking about extracting as opposed to what the product is removes us from the link between us and our lives and the products we use. You can’t look out the window in my town without seeing a great many wood products in construction and reconstruction, in art, in furniture, and so on.