Paper, Wood and the Prince of Nature

Posted in Opinions on November 8th, 2009 by MadDog
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Today is Sunday. I’m not really here. I’m up at Blueblood recuperating from the wedding yesterday. This is a phantom post.

Before I begin today’s hypocritical sermon, let me show you the surreal scene in from of my house at 05:30:Purple and Red SunriseToo much purple, but no matter what I tried I couldn’t make it look any better, so I left it the way it was. I guess I still have a few things to learn about Photoshop. The fifteen second exposures on the three frames did make the water nice and glassy.

First, I’ll admit that I believe that anybody who suggests that we should stop chopping up trees to make paper is an idiot. The world runs on paper. We could get by without fossil fuels (nukes are fine with me), but civilisation, as we know it, would collapse without paper. Unfortunately in the extreme is that nobody has figured out any commercially useful way to make paper without cutting trees up into tiny bits. So, we have to live with this:

Prince of Nature full of chipped logs

This is an absolutely huge  ship full of chopped up trees. I can’t even imagine how many trees are there, but the trucks run up and down our access road 24 hours a day for months to make enough chips for a ship load. By the way, the ship parks nearly in front of our house which would be just about directly on the other side of the ship from where the middle tug boat is sitting.

Where I find the irony in this story (more to come later) is in the name of the ship, the Prince of Nature.  Your mileage may vary according to how generally disgruntled you are concerning the chopping up of trees for paper. My general feeling is that we must do it, so we’d better find the least damaging way to go about obtaining this resource. In the case of this company (It’s called Japan and Niugini Timber – JANT.) I think that they’re doing it in the least disgusting way that we can manage, given the general condition of the forestry industry in PNG, upon which it’s simply too dangerous for me to comment.

When we first came to PNG in 1981, JANT was just roaring to life. They were clear-cutting tropical rain forest with a vengeance. Now, at least to outward appearances, that has changed. All of the trees that I see coming in on the trucks, with very few exceptions, are small diameter eucalypts which are grown on monoculture plantations. This is, of course, still devastating to the ecology, but at least it is the lesser of two evils.

The Prince of Nature . . . uh huh

Prince of Nature,  indeed. Could you think of a more hypocritical name?

Okay, we lived through that one with no blood on the floor. Now we’re going to get down and dirty. Here we have another ship. Victory  is its name and there’s precious little irony in that:

Logger ship "Victory"

The owners of the cargo of this ship have, indeed, enjoyed a grisly victory over the people of PNG. You’re looking at a ship carrying an absolute fortune of some of the finest quality tropical timber left on the planet. I’m disgusted  to look at it. I would not be quite  so disgusted if I believed that the people who gave it up were not getting (I have to subdue some Army talk here) cheated  quite so badly. We all know who made the big money here. I don’t have to say it.

Maybe some erstwhile Christians out there will remember the story of Jacob and Esau. I’ll skip over all the religious stuff and get to the core of it. Isaac, the father of the two brothers, had an estate the value of which was incalculable. Esau was the older of the two and stood to grab it all when Isaac died. One day Esau came in from wherever and was feeling a little peckish. He saw his brother cooking a meal, and begged for food. Crafty Jacob told Esau that he could have a cup of soup if he swore to hand over his birthright. Esau said, “Sure, no worries.” Dumb, eh? Everything, everything,  for a cup of soup:

Logger ship "Victory" carrying someone's birthright

And, you know that the big men who sell the birthright of their people, their children and the generations to come will say. “Ah yes, but we still have our land.” (and our shiny new cars) Fools!  Your land is worth nothing  without the ecology that supported your ancestors and may, sooner that we might expect, have to be your sole source of lifegiving sustenance and shelter from the hell to come. Your land is now simply a pile of dirt that will shortly be washed into the sea along with your entire culture.

Tirade complete. Conscience nearly clear.

Here is a little cheerier sunrise:


With a little hint of fire.

In our hearts, we know it’s coming.

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Wings, Logs, and a Sunrise

Posted in Mixed Nuts on June 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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This morning, Kar Kar Island  was all moody and sombre in the pinkish dawn light. I went back into the house to get my Olympus SP590-UZ to get a long telephoto shot of the big volcano. I came back out and climbed up on the roof of our truck to get a little more of the mountain sticking up above the trees on Kerosene Island.  As I was framing a shot, I heard the morning Air Niugini flight coming in from the east. I waited until it was directly over Kar Kar Island  and voila!

The morning Air Niugini Flight coming in over Kar Kar Island

That was surprise shot number one for today.

This next one interests me because it’s an example of an image that turned out to be more than I thought it would be:

Pacific Blue flight taking me home to Madang from Brisbane

As I was leaving Brisbane on the Pacific Blue / Airlines PNG flight to Port Moresby, I did a couple of quick snaps out the window. I don’t know what method airlines use to determine who the serious amateur photographers are and consistently seat them directly over the wing, but I hate it. So, noting my seat position, I had already decided that the flight was a dead loss, photographically. However, when I looked at the image above, it started talking to me. So, I fiddled with it for a while until I was happy with it. It is one of those images that adds up to more than the sum of its details.

This one speaks for itself:

Really smart move; selling your birthright for a bowl of soup - LOGS FOR SALE!

I suppose that somebody out there (probably someone who is making money from it) will blab on about “sustainable logging.” Would you like to try to convince me?  Have a go. I don’t mind sticking my neck out to make a prediction. At some point in the future, unless drastic cultural and societal changes occur in this country, all profitable timber will have been removed and the people once inhabiting those lands will be destitute. Why? Simple. These logs will continue to increase in value decade by decade until the pressure to sell them is too tempting to resist. It will be impossible to control. Is it possible to avoid this catastrophe? I’d say yes, but only if there is a sea change in attitude. Selling one’s birthright for a cup of soup is a long human tradition.

Okay, enough complaining. This is not a particularly colourful sunrise, but I love its symmetry:

Dark Sunrise Panorama

That’s about it for today.  Thanks to all the people who emailed, commented and left notes on my Facebook account congratulating us on our 45th wedding anniversary. I only wish I had another 45 years with her.

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