News Release

Disasters: Forest Fires and Nuke Subs

CHAD HANSON
Executive director of the John Muir Project and author of Big Timber’s Big Lie in the current issue of Sierra magazine, Hanson said today: “The fire risk is coming from twigs, shrubs and saplings, material less than four inches in diameter. It’s not a problem that the timber industry in any way can solve. While the anti-environmental Republicans want to use fires as a pretext to continue logging mature forests on public lands to please the timber industry campaign contributors, the administration is proposing an equally destructive and baseless proposal: to cut down all the small and medium size trees (10-24 inches in diameter). Both approaches would do tremendous habitat damage and actually increase fire risk.”
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MARC EVANS
A former Forest Service firefighter (1985-89) and Greenpeace forest issues specialist (1993-99), Evans said today: “In 1998, the federal government released a 2,000-page, multi-year study on California’s Sierra Nevadas confirming that logging on National Forest lands increases the risk of fire more than any other single activity. Natural and old-growth forests rarely erupt into massive ‘crown’ fires, where all of the forest is burnt. That is because old growth forests have intact canopies that shade the forest floor, promote water retention and encourage understory species growth that has more water stored in vascular systems. Clear-cutting lets all the sunlight in and encourages massive tree seedling growth in the first decade, which then dies in the competition for scarce water and nutrients. This leaves standing dead wood and drought resistant (low moisture) understory plants that can then erupt into wildfires that are tens of thousands of acres…. The best fire protection available is to bring the West’s forest lands back to a natural, old-growth condition. Controlled burns in spring, non-commercial tree thinning, and better ecosystem management are the keys to controlling future forest fires, not letting the timber industry into the National Forest timberlands to create an even more dangerous situation with increased logging.”

LLOYD J. DUMAS
Author of Lethal Arrogance: Human Fallibility and Dangerous Technologies and professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas, Dumas said today: “The sinking of the pride of the nuclear submarine fleet, the Kursk, is not just another tragic loss of life at sea. It has added two more nuclear reactors (and perhaps nuclear warheads as well) to the more than half dozen reactors (U.S., French and Russian) and nearly 50 nuclear warheads already at the bottom of the sea. No one knows just how much ecological damage this nuclear graveyard is doing, or when the silent threat posed to human life by so many out-of-control reactors and weapons will explode in our faces. Blaming the deteriorated condition of Russian military forces for the Kursk tragedy misses the key point. Threatening accidents like this have happened repeatedly in the past and will continue as long as fallible humans insist on creating and operating such complex and dangerous technologies.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020