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From the Seat of the Bulldozer
The following article tells a graphic story about logging trees in a rainforest. Although the article is about logging in a temperate rather than a tropical rainforest, the attitudes expressed and the emotions experienced during such an event are similar in both cases.

Image of a bulldozer digging in the dirt.  This image links to a more detailed image.By then the noise of the bulldozers had grown louder, and the ground began to tremble, and the great pines began to shudder. And when I looked up I saw that the slender needles on the trees were shivering. Towering firs that had bravely stood against four hundred years of fire and lightning, against flood and drought, against pestilence and windstorms, giants that were already tall trees when Patrick Henry lauded the virtues of liberty, began to groan and tremble. The forest's throat was seized in terror. The jays ceased their chattering. The crickets, the frogs, even the mosquitoes, were silent as dry stones. The faces of the people were clenched fists. Photo: Patrick Bishop

Yet I preferred the earthy description of the dozer operator who drove the first tractor into the forest, because I could understand the human experience more readily than the experiences of the collective forest to which I had ascribed human attributes. The driver's [description] came out of pain and was more credible. The driver's name was Billy Joe Wheeler. Billy Joe was struggling to explain the human dilemma he faced as the first man to strike out at the helpless forest. He began to weep.

Good people work growin' tobacca and makin' cigarettes, an' good people work in them whiskey distilleries an' in bars an' all. Good people work makin' A bombs. And there's good people that drive them Cats into the woods, too...You oughta try raisin' a family once. If I didn't drive that tractor somebody else woulda. It's easy ta have them high ideas when ya got money." He wiped his nose in his red bandanna. Finally, he whispered, "You should hear the sound of one of them old firs hitting the ground. Some of 'em is over four hundred year old ya, know. It's horrible ta hear'em come crashing down. It's a sound a man never fergits.

Then the driver of a logging truck who also took part in the massacre chimed in. His name was Cap. "Us humans ain't the only ones killing trees ya know. Bugs kill trees and porcupines kill trees. Sometimes me and Georgia haul logs. [He was referring to his truck, which he called Georgia.] Man's gotta make a livin'. I met Jimmy Hoffa once. Now there was a true...criminal. But I'll say one thing fer Jimmy. We had jobs! If them 'viormentalists had their way we'd all be on welfare along with them.

What about the old-growth forests?" someone asked.

The way I got it figgered, man is like a tree beetle. He's gonna eat himself outta house an' home an' keep [messin] things up, an' after the human race is gone things'll get good again. Ya can't talk no sense inta tree beetles, an' ya can't talk no sense inta human bein's neither. Me--I'm gonna get my share while the gettin's still good. Spence, G. (1995).

[ Slash & Burn Agriculture ] [ From the Seat of the Bulldozer ] [ Regrowth in a Tropical Rainforest ]
[ Data Collection in the Amazon ] [ Colonization of the Rainforest ] [ Loving the Rainforest to Death ]
[ Frogs in the Rainforest ] [ Tropical Deforestation & Habitat Destruction ]
[ The Importance of Forests & the Perils of Deforestation ] [ Hamburgers in the Rainforest ]
[ References ] [ PBL Model

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Last updated November 10, 2004

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