North Korea, the environment, and trees

by josh on June 4, 2012

This NY TImes article on

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North Korea and its environment, Q. and A.: North Korea’s Choked Environment, reminded me of other routes to create bonds and understanding with North Korea — nature and science.

The article describes the current environmental situation there, some history, and how a conference on it went. Since the Korean War North Korea has lost trees, exacerbated by famine, mismanagement, flooding, and so on.

Everybody gains from helping make an environment sustainable. Nearly everybody gains from free exchange of scientific information (people whose power depends on faith and dogma might not see how they do).

Anyway, this article points out the usual problems with how North Korea communicates with the rest of the world — spending resources showing off its leaders instead of solving other problems, denying problems, not letting knowledgeable people communicate, denying problems, etc.

On the other hand, a dialog is starting. They want to feed their people and recognize people outside their country have solved problems they need to solve.

The article also reminds me of the importance of trees. Any culture that ignores its long-term health long enough could find itself in their predicament. The U.S. is cutting down its forests too. Many cultures have collapsed from the same problems.

I’m no expert, but I don’t see the U.S. balancing its need for resources with what it has. We would do well to learn from North Korea’s mistakes too.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joseph June 13, 2012 at 3:11 am
Garrett Albright June 30, 2012 at 8:21 am

I was born and raised in Humboldt County, California, where the cash crop (well, the *other* one) is redwood trees, so I felt prompted to respond to the comment “The U.S. is cutting down its forests too.”

It’s rarely the case anymore where logging companies just go into a random forest, chop down the trees, and leave. Instead, they operate “managed forests” – tree farms, basically, where they plant trees in an area, watch over them as they grow, harvest them when they get big enough, and then replant. Logging companies actually plant more trees than they cut down. And as trees in managed forests can grow closer together and mature faster, since they’re being protected from harmful animals and diseases and such, they yield much more wood per square mile than a “natural” forest would.

At any rate, there has most certainly not been a trend towards deforestation in the United States in recent decade, and in some cases the reverse is actually happening.


MR SMIOTH September 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm



gabriel September 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

Thanks for the comment, Mr. Smioth. It’s this kind of incisive analysis that makes our community so vibrant.


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