Monday, April 30, 2012

The Future of People

 David Wear, USFS, predicts large declines in forest area in the US as more and more land is developed for housing.  Over the next 50 years the US population is forecast to double again to 500 million, mostly along the coasts. 

Most of the RPA interval projections by the USFS are driven by economic analyses.  Increased wealth greatly increases the impact of any increase in human population, because wealthier people build bigger houses, shop more, and need more roads.  More people will need more food, leading to higher food prices that threaten to undo the conservation reserve program, putting reforested land back into food production.  But higher prices for timber or biomass would actually increase forested area!  With a higher value on trees, timbered lands might be worth too much to develop....

I conclude that the US needs a healthy forest products (including, somehow, forest biomass) industry to push back against the teeming urban hordes.

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