We’re #1! Reforestation as a Bipartisan Climate Solution: Matt Burgess (CU) Video with Some Ancient Wisdom

I’m sure that many of you are suffering from the seasonal influx of Obnoxious Political Ads. Last week, I ran across this video by a Professor Matt Burgess at University of Colorado who is studying polarization, with an eye to understanding and decreasing it. I thought it was super that an academic was looking into this instead of fanning the flames (I do see quite a bit of that), so here’s a shout out to Matt!

Check out his video on climate change polarization and what people agree on. I took some screenshots of some slides. They looked at climate policies that people broadly agree on.

Here’s an important screenshot for forest folks:

It’s particularly interesting as in President Biden’s Executive Order has different prongs.. MOG, wildfire risk, reforestation and economic development.

Here’s the reforestation part.

(d)  The Secretaries, in coordination with the heads of other agencies as appropriate, shall within 1 year of the date of this order:

(i)    develop a Federal goal that charges agencies to meet agency-specific reforestation targets by 2030, including an assessment of reforestation opportunities on Federal lands and through existing Federal programs and partnerships;

(ii)   develop, in collaboration with Federal, State, Tribal, and private-sector partners, a climate-informed plan (building on existing efforts) to increase Federal cone and seed collection and to ensure seed and seedling nursery capacity is sufficient to meet anticipated reforestation demand; and

We haven’t heard as much about this part of the response to the EO. Perhaps because it’s not controversial. But shouldn’t we talk about the non-controversial parts just as much?  Perhaps controversy is interesting in a way that mutually moving forward in a positive direction is not?


Discussing With Those Whom You Disagree… Burgess’s Take:

Here are a few of his slides about conversations with those people you disagree with.  Some old ideas and some new ones for us who have been doing this work. This discussion is about 45 minutes in.

Burgess explains that “steelmanning” instead of “strawmanning”  is that you want to understand the best argument for the other side before you argue for our own side.


If this reminds you of Hillel and Shammai, as well as our friend, the author of the book of Kohelet in the Hebrew Bible – “there is nothing new under the sun,” well, maybe those ancient folks knew a thing or two.

[The law is in accord with the School of Hillel] because they were kindly and modest, because they studied not only their own rulings but also those of the School of Shammai, and because they taught the words of the School of Shammai before their own.  Eruvin 13b.



2 thoughts on “We’re #1! Reforestation as a Bipartisan Climate Solution: Matt Burgess (CU) Video with Some Ancient Wisdom”

  1. With maybe the exception of the term “steelmanning” none of the suggestions are new, of course. And all are good advice. Unfortunately, histrionics leads to clicks on news articles and amps up emotions leading to donations and votes… and sometimes violence (e.g., stochastic terrorism such as what recently happened to Paul Pelosi). Using Burgess’ suggestions works well with interpersonal communication between two people, as guidelines in public meetings, and in mediation. Unfortunately, our politicians on both sides strive for quotes in the news media and special interests are hoping for donations. If you can figure out how to stop that you might just save the world… or is that just histrionics?

    • I don’t think it would save the world, necessarily, but it would make the world a better, more honest and more caring place. So that’s the trajectory we should be on.

      It’s true that historically politicians have always lied and are rewarded for lying apparently. https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2008144117

      So I think it’s up to the rest of us to try to bridge the gaps in our own humble circles.


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