Sunday, June 20, 2010

Green Fuels: Oil and Coal ?
Kerosene helped wean America (and everyone else) off our “addiction” to whales. Oil and coal helped end our addiction to wood for, well, everything. Wood was not only a heating fuel, it was instrumental to railroads and all manner of construction. Ronald Bailey has noted that “Railroads, the 19th century’s ‘modern’ form of transportation, consumed nearly 25 percent of all the wood used in America, for both track ties and fuel.” In 1900, New York City alone supported over 120,000 horses who befouled the water and the air in the city, but also required vast amounts of land to supply the hay that fueled them.

Today, more American land is covered by forests—by far—than at the end of the 19th century. By the 1860s, Massachusetts and Connecticut had lost 70 percent of their forests. Today nearly 70 percent of those states are forested again. Vermont was once nearly denuded but now nearly 80 percent of it is covered in trees. In 1880, New York was only one-quarter forests. Now, more than two-thirds of the Empire State is covered in forests. The same holds true for much of Europe. In 1860s Switzerland, 18 percent of the land was forested. In 2005 30 percent was forested. In the 1810s, Denmark was 4 percent forested, in 2005, that country was 11 percent forested. Scotland in the 1920s: 5 percent; in 2005: 17 percent. France during the 1830s was 14 percent forested, in 2005 it was double that. These numbers come from a National Academy of Sciences report “Returning forests analyzed with the forest identity.”
Copyright © Swing Right Rudie
A notebook to myself