Long ago, in Mexico and Central America, in the Pacific Islands, in Arctic Greenland, humans ventured into the forest, cut down trees – for lumber, for fuel, to clear farmland – and continued cutting down trees until the forests were wounded beyond remedy.

Deforestation causes soil erosion, drought, the extinction of animal and plant species, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and decreases in atmospheric oxygen that hasten climate destabilization. Life for humans on the lands they’d scarred became miserable, then impossible, until eventually their societies disintegrated. The Fertile Crescent, famed as the birthplace of human civilization, is today a desert. Forests grew there once.

Maine’s North Woods is the largest, least developed temperate forest in North America. Central Maine Power, colluding with Hydro-Quebec and abetted by the Maine state government, now aims to invade this last of the great forests, razing miles of trees out of existence, in order to channel electricity from Hydro-Quebec’s ecologically disastrous dams down through Maine to peddle power to Massachusetts. These corporations are motivated by profit, not by concern for life on Earth.

According to a study published in 2020, if current rates of deforestation keep up, we have only a century or two until all forests on Earth are gone. In the same study, the researchers estimate that global human civilization has a less than 10 percent chance of surviving such rapid deforestation.

It has happened before: Man’s violence against the land accumulates and bites back as blight. Now, as ever, we choose short-sighted destruction at our peril.

Aurora Linnea
Harpswell

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