On Amazon Fires: It’s the Ecology Stupid

Global Ecological Sustainability depends critically upon ending the logging and burning of old forests and letting them recover, expand and reconnect

“Each act of cutting and burning old trees diminishes and contributes to the pending collapse of the biosphere… The cutting and burning of old forests ends, as a prominent aspect of the coming Great Transition required for equitable and just global ecological sustainability, or together we all needlessly die .”

Dr. Glen Barry

A particularly malignant social and ecological disease sprung forth upon the Earth several centuries ago. A central component of European colonialism was the pernicious, ecocidal belief that wide scale cutting and burning of natural ecosystems was desirable. Indeed, cutting and burning natural ecosystems defined “civilization” and made the Western worldview superior to heathen naturalism.

This pantheon to “development” was created around murdering natural ecosystems and their inhabitants, which continues to be pursued with religious intensity. Enormous temporary growth and wealth were accumulated by some through the wholesale liquidation of vast expanses of naturally evolved life. Generations of children were born and indoctrinated into the fallacy that ecosystems existed to be cut and burnt and had no intrinsic worth.

In fact, as multitudes of indigenous cultures intimately understood, humanity is completely dependent upon natural ecosystem habitats to meet all our needs. Food, water, air, shelter, medicines, spirituality and more derive from old forests and old trees.

Humans and all life need naturally evolved ecosystems to exist and prosper. We are part of and utterly dependent upon the web of life found in the ecology of old forests and other natural habitats.

Yet we have derived an economic system of growth dependent upon their clearing. At a certain scale such habitat destruction could occur without impacting climate, soil, precipitation, and other ecological processes. Yet increasingly over recent decades landscapes, bioregions, and increasingly the global system are being thrown into disarray as terrestrial ecosystem processes and patterns are disturbed and ultimately eliminated.

Critical thresholds whereby natural ecosystems become disconnected, and are islands of habitat surrounded by devastation, have been surpassed. Abrupt climate change, lack of drinking water, soil infertility, dead oceans – all are contributed to by loss and diminishment of terrestrial ecosystems.

This European spawned disease of over-development, since embraced by many others, threatens an uninhabitable hell on Earth. Tremendous suffering awaits us all and has already begun as climate weirding, ecosystem collapse, food and water shortages, and authoritarian responses destroy centuries of progress. Ill-gotten wealth from ecosystem liquidation has enabled unsustainable growth in human populations and inequitable over-consumption.

Each act of cutting and burning old trees diminishes and contributes to the pending collapse of the biosphere. Continued clearing of old forests inexorably leads to the end of being.

The Amazon rainforest, along with a handful of other forest wildernesses in Africa, Canada, the Congo, Russia, and New Guinea, contain the last intact, contiguous terrestrial ecosystems that provide ecosystem services driving global ecological sustainability. These naturally evolved large-scale ecosystems contain a complex panoply of life that in sum power the biosphere and make Earth habitable. And at a smaller scale remnant habits along rivers, in wetlands, forest fragments, and even individual large trees continue to provide habitat for all life including humans.

Yet despite all that science has re-learned regarding the importance of natural ecosystems for biodiversity, ecosystems, and climate; these last planetary ecological engines continue to be sacrificed on the alter of mammon in an orgiastic spasm of ecological cruelty and derangement.

Ecology is the meaning of life (not development).

It is ludicrous to log old trees found in millions of year-old natural ecosystems. It is abnormal and a self-fulfilling death wish. Think of the suffering of wildlife as they are consumed by flames or die from lack of habitat.

Cutting and burning are both a cause and a symptom of the disease consuming the Amazon. Rainforests are cleared for agriculture using fire, and the resultant micro-climate changes, particularly along exposed rainforest edges, make otherwise moist regions more prone to burning.

The current burning of the Amazon is the logical consequence of a wicked worldview’s pernicious logging of tropical hardwoods and clearing of land using fire for agricultural expansion. And most of this destruction is to feed the markets of the over-developed world which have already decimated their own natural systems.

You can make a difference in protecting the Amazon and other old forests. Your hunger for soy, beef, and timber are ultimately the cause of Amazon’s fires. Eliminate these rainforest destroying products from your life. For centuries settlers have threatened indigenous communities. Working as an ally to support indigenous land tenure is perhaps the most important thing you can do to help stop the Amazon fires. And work to support ecological restoration and regenerative agriculture in the Amazon and on all degraded lands including those near you.

Entire criminal sectors have made some powerful interests rich, and provide temporary employment for workers growing soybeans, milling logs, and cattle ranching. Yet all such extractive enterprises based upon clearing millions of year old natural ecosystems ultimately prove tragically unsustainable in the mid-to-long term.

The collapse of natural ecosystems is made more tragic by a whole lecherous NGO sector greenwashing particular types of rainforest logging or farming as being “sustainable”. Should a hell exist other than in Amazonian infernos, a special place is reserved for such traitors to the Earth and ecological truth. You know who you are, shame on you.

Around the world social protest movements are emerging, strengthening, and coalescing into more than the sum of their parts; to demand democratic, just, equitable, and sustainable social change. Only through such a Great Transition can the global environment be sustained, and all enjoy freedom and decent livelihoods. Crucially, protest movements are emerging that acknowledge that the climate, biodiversity, and ecosystems crises are one and the same.

A central demand of those seeking ecology truths must be that all cutting and burning of old trees found in natural old forest habitats end immediately. And that an age of ecological restoration be embraced with all haste to reestablish mature natural habitats across the majority of Earth’s surface.

Entire industries feeding themselves upon the trough of global ecocide must be dismantled; and replaced with eco-enterprises based upon regenerative agriculture and allowing natural ecosystems to age and reconnect. There exists tremendous potential for good livelihoods built upon restoring natural forests, soils, wetlands, and waterways. All of which will prove important in restoring our global atmosphere by slowing climate change as well.

It is morally wrong to kill old trees.

The cutting and burning of old forests ends, as a prominent aspect of the coming Great Transition required for equitable and just global ecological sustainability, or together we all needlessly die.

I beseech you to dedicate yourself to living a life that does not consume products produced by burning and cutting old forests and other natural ecosystems. And commit yourself to restoring natural habitats, indigenous well-being, and sustainable agriculture.

Do so as if your and all life depend upon it. It does.


    We have been working in Oregon, fighting really, to get people to
    understand what’s happening all around them. I hope we get more
    attention with this report. I expect you at LTA don’t know that much
    about deforestation. I’m including my latest submission to our not
    locally owned Gatehouse media “newspaper”. I’ll see if they have the
    guts to go against the timber industry lobby. Jan Nelson, farmer,
    forestland owner, BOD nwlct.org
    The Intergovrnmental Panel on Climate Change just released a report
    concerning land-use caused climate change; including agriculture and
    deforestation. As a farmer and forestland owner, it reveals
    information many of us have been aware of for years. Now we’re in the
    midst of another fire season. Most wildfires are directly or
    indirectly caused by humans. The report connects deforestation with
    warming and drought, and this obviously leads to more fires.
    For a forest summary see
    Here in Lane county, in Oregon, and the U.S. deforestation is being
    ignored; especially by our elected officials. The vast majority of
    forestland here in the northwest is being clearcut more than ever.
    My teeth clench when I hear the “foresters” who taught people how to
    exploit the forests, now explain how to “man-age” them especially to
    avoid fire. Journalist interviewers don’t know enough to question
    what they are told, and politicians parrot the same propaganda.
    The original sin was clear cutting the continent east to west.
    Everything now suggested is a desperate attempt to mitigate that. It
    is not easy to get a fire to rage through a big, old, closed canopy
    forest. This is especially true in northwest rainforests. Old forests
    are cool and retain moisture.
    Forest “man-agers” are promoting the reductionist idea of thinning and
    prescribed burning of undergrowth in a vain attempt to imitate those
    mature native forests. This practice can expose the soil to sun and
    wind increasing its susceptibility to fire. When I was taking OSU
    forestry classes, we toured a property completely devoid of
    undergrowth. The fir trees were actually evenly spaced in rows. This
    was their idea of model forest regrowth, and I was strongly rebuked
    for saying it was not a forest but a tree farm. The Forestry College
    would more appropriately be called the Logging College.
    Oregon’s climate plans talk about emission controls and glaringly
    avoids deforestation. We need to keep saying that chopping forests is
    a massive contributor to carbon buildup in our atmosphere. Despite
    industry propaganda, several hundred young replanted trees per acre do
    not absorb the carbon of the enormous old original trees. The
    undergrowth in a natural forest not only also absorbs carbon, but is
    alive with habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, all kinds
    of insects, other invertebrates, fungi, and micro-organisms;
    synergistically making a real biodiverse forest. As some of the
    undergrowth is shaded out it decays(which is habitat) it eventually
    becomes soil providing nutrients. Interrupting this natural process,
    this web of life, is what we seem to be so good at doing. We see the
    difference in the natural forest on our property compared to the tree
    farm next to us. Be very skeptical of so-called foresters whose jobs
    depend on their latest “forest health” promotions. The practices they
    promote may actually create deadscapes.
    The Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission recently passed more forest damaging rules to burn out
    forest undergrowth vegetation and slash. If there are invasive plants,
    blackbrries, scots broom, poison oak; goats and certain breeds of
    sheep can do the landscaping more safely and without toxic pesticides.
    I use my animals in this way in my orchard and forest; and, oh by the
    way, they fertilize at the same time. The remedy to prevent so many
    of these manmade fires is obvious. Allow forests to live out their
    lifespan. We better act fast because fir trees are already stressed
    and dying. I think there’s no longer a question that the causes are
    climate caused drought and damaging forest practices. If we do not
    act, Oregon will soon see mother nature settle any forest debate for
    Jan nelson, farmer, forestland owner, BOD, Northwest Land
    Conservation Trust (nwlct.org) 85354 doane rd., rural Eugene,
    97402, 541 485 1426
    Suggested reading; books by Oregon author Chris Maser, esp. FOREST PRIMEVAL,
    Report: WILD and WORKING FORESTS; Center for Sustainable Economy,
    Books by Edward O. Wilson, esp. BIODIVERSITY (many other authors on
    Books by Joan Maloof and the Old Growth Forest Network
    TED talk by Bernie Krause
    Your letter on forest management makes complete sense to me. Thanks
    for sharing the concept,
    Edward O. Wilson
    Professor Edward O. Wilson | Harvard University | Museum of
    Comparative Zoology | 26 Oxford Street | Cambridge MA 02138-2902

  2. It’s only when we realise the oneness of everything and that none of us is independent of any other thing can the salvation of our planet begin.

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