Thursday, May 13, 2010

All God's Dangers Ain't al Q: Some Others Lurk in the Trees

Reader and commenter, Wild Iris, has provided us with some first-hand information on the ugly practice of tree spiking and the black-hearted Earth First!ers who are compelled to indulge in this gruesome method of killing people who make a living in the lumber industry.

Wild Iris definitely has the experience to speak to this issue. He says,

[A commenter] made this point…

“…a spiked tree as it can cause severe damage to a tree logger with a chain saw. The chain can snap off when it hits the spikes and seriously maim the person handling the chain saw, and in worst case scenario kill him, just like an IED in Iraq could kill and maim an innocent person.”

Like the commenter, I also thought it was the loggers who are at risk. However, Wild Iris says loggers are safe enough. It is the sawyers at the mill who face death by the wreckage caused from those deliberately planted spikes.

Wild Iris’ report:

As someone who was a logger off and on for seventeen years, I can vouch for a fact that the comment above is not the case.

Over the years I hit more rocks with a chainsaw than I can count. I’ve even managed to hit the tracks on a CAT, the forks on a loader, choker-bells, the stakes on a log truck and cable rigging. Hitting some steel with your chainsaw just totally trashes some of the teeth on the chain, but this is hardly a show-stopper.

It is understandable that people not familiar with logging would make this assumption, so it is not my intention to be critical here. However, it is important to correct this point so that Gates of Vienna readers will continue to be the most fully informed of all.

Earth First!ers know why they spike trees, but they have never, to my knowledge, shared their intentions with the public. It is the sawmill that is the target of tree spiking and it is the sawyer and off-bearer that are most at risk of being maimed or killed by this practice of tree-spiking.

Here is a You Tube video of a sawmill operation. It isn’t the most professionally run operation I’ve seen and it is small by old growth standards but it does show the potential problem with tree spiking:

The guy in front is the off-bearer. It is his job to make sure that as the slabs come off the head rig, they fall onto the conveyer and are moved out of the way before the next pass of the head rig. Right behind him you can see the bandsaw. Bandsaw blades are 0.25” to 0.5” thick, 1 to 2.5 feet wide and 2 to 3 stories high; if they hit anything buried inside of the log being cut the bandsaw blades will shatter. Shrapnel goes flying everywhere, while the remaining sections of the bandsaw blade peel off of the saw and go flying around the cutting floor.

This particular sawmill is an old fashioned one so there is another crewman known as the setter riding the carriage in the background. He would also be vulnerable to the effects of tree spiking. The sawyer is not visible in this video. In this particular mill operation, he would be to the right of the off-bearer, out of view of the camera.

Earth First!ers went out of their way to place their spikes higher up in a tree, precisely so that fallers would not hit those spikes with their chainsaws and as a result discover the spiking.

However, mills learned to deal with these planted IEDs…
- - - - - - - - -
Mills began using metal detectors to scan logs before they went into the mill. Earth First! responded to this by going to ceramic spikes.

Real nice folks these Earth First!ers, aren’t they?

I hope this helps people understand some of the issues behind tree spiking.

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The Earth First! individuals that I encountered during my years in the woods were scary folks. On a couple of occasions, the presence of certain Earth First! people made my skin crawl, as if I had just encountered pure evil in human form.

Given my experience with Earth First!ers, both in the woods as a logger and again in town as a college student, I have no doubt that they have taken on the same mental pathologies that drive Al Qaeda terrorists and Islamic suicide bombers.

I am also convinced that there is only one thing keeping many Earth First!ers from acting out in the same manner as Islamists. It is the remnant of Judeo-Christian morality that still permeates our culture, no matter how attenuated this moral sense may have become.

Release that moral brake and the eco-suicide bomber would be the same as Al Qaeda terrorists, killing the innocent in the name of their idolatry: Earth itself.


histfan said...

I would think spiking trees is just about the only privately run enterprise these earth-firsters would endorse..

Anonymous said...

Ceramic spikes ? Who on earth would make ceramic spikes to start with ? What for ?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dymphna said...

To the poster above:

Your comment exceeded the ground rules, here, from the top of the comment box:

Gates of Vienna's rules about comments require that they be civil, temperate, on-topic, and show decorum.

I can understand your sentiments, but we don't stand a chance if we cease to live under a rule of law.

M. Marchenoir--

Good question. Google was no help. I'll have to see what Wild Iris can tell us.

Yorkshireminer said...

This sort of problem has been happening here in Europe for years, is it a political problem no it isn't, What is it then it is a problem from the second world war. The Battle of the Hürtgen Forest a battle of attrition resembling more the first world war, where we are killing more of them than they are killing of us became the mantra of success instead of failure. I can remember in the Vietnam war the news where body count was used to justify the armies failure to secure victory and hide failure, we are killing more of them than they are killing of us. You didn't kill people you just went round and counted the bodies. Most Americans don't realise that the battle of the Hürtgen forest was almost as costly in lives as the battle of the bulge, which was fought a few miles too the south a couple of months later.

Well, people will now be asking he question what the F**k has this got to do with driving spikes into trees to destroy band saws. Well where do you think all that expended ammunition ended up, did it just fall to earth, and then thousands of concerned citizens wearing bright orange visibility vests go round picking it up and recycling it.. No it bloody well didn't, it ended up in the trunks of trees and was causing exactly these same problems during the 70s 80s and 90s when the tree were harvested. A few obsessed idiots is not a threat to society, What is a threat is the numb nuts who over react and put in place draconian laws when simple common sense can do the same by putting more guards around the machine and moving the people out of the way.

wildiris said...

R. Marchenoir , regarding ceramic spikes, I have no idea. In this case, I’m just repeating what I heard from the Earth First!ers I was around. As an engineer, I know that there are some pretty tough ceramic materials out there, but whether or not any Earth First!er ever actually followed through with this in an effective manner, I don’t know.

The sawmill you see in the video is typical of what existed decades ago when tree spiking first appeared. By today’s standards, it is an antique. Everything nowadays has become computerized and automated, so the safety issues that labor-intensive old-growth sawmill operations had to deal with years ago aren’t issues anymore.

Also, the purpose of the headsaw is not to cut a log into lumber, but only to reduce a larger log into smaller slabs that are then handled by smaller re-saw stations further down the production line. It is entirely possible that even if a tree had been spiked, the headsaw could miss it anyway.

Profitsbeard said...

The Tree of Liberty is being spiked by Muslim supremacists.

Big Danger trumps minor nuisance.

wildiris said...

To make a very long story short, I’ll just say that I lived in Humboldt County through the 1970’s and 80’s, went to Humboldt State University and supported myself through college by working as a logger. Humboldt County lies at the center of the redwood forests of Northern California, and as such, it was the focus of no end of environmental protests. During those years, Humboldt State University, and the surrounding community of Arcata, CA became a mecca for all sorts of protesters.

Environmentalists in general and EF! types in particular were possessed by such a rabidly negative view of loggers, that apparently it was impossible for their minds to comprehend that that physics/math double major sitting across from them in the campus coffee shop could actually be one of the enemy. As a result, I got to be that proverbial fly on the wall, and had a view into the lives of these people that few other outsiders ever saw.

Earth First! is not an organization like the Sierra Club or the YMCA that have formal memberships. EF! is more of a banner that a loose community of fellow travelers likes to wave. From my experience, you could divide EF! into three layers. There were the naive big-city college kids that would come up to Humboldt County for the summer and participate in protests because it was the thing to do. This was the useful idiot layer that EF! used to project a benign and well intentioned image of itself to the public.

The next layer down were the regulars. Individuals that lived up north year around and like the Deadheads of years ago had a vagabond lifestyle of travelling from one protest action to the next. These folks, to a person, were individuals dealing with one kind of mental dysfunction or another. I’m not a psychologist, but it appeared that these were a trouble lot that found an outlet for their dysfunctional behavior and meaning for their lives by becoming part of a bigger movement.

At the core of EF! were some individuals that were down right scary. Charles Manson is the archetype that always comes to mind when I remember my few encounters with these folks; pathological, manipulative in the extreme, souls that seemed to feed on the strife they created in the world around them.

This is why I firmly believe, if anyone wants a working example of the psychological dynamic that drives entities like Al-Qaida or the mindset of a suicide bomber, they need look no further than Earth First!

Engineer-Poet said...

No, there's essentially no similarity between EF and anything Islamist.  The goals, and more importantly the means, are completely different.

EF! was trying to preserve the old-growth forests because only a small fraction of them remained, and they were home to lots of things which couldn't live in the new-growth tree farms which followed clearcuts.  If they were actual terrorists, they would have gone around shooting loggers.  Did they?  Far from it.  Spiking trees harms no one if you don't take the tree to a sawmill!  The goal was to make the timber impossible to saw, thus uneconomical to buy and not worth cutting.  This is quite logical if you think about it.

Contrast the Islamist treatment of e.g. the Bamiyan Buddhas.  There's no comparison.

Even the logging interests were varied.  The management had a bunch of old, cheap sawmills suited only for old-growth timber and wanted to squeeze every last bit of profit out of them.  The workers were looking at the end of their jobs, like coal-company towns when the mine is played out.  They could both get a few years if the remaining old growth was cut.

Despite EF!, the irreplaceable trees were cut anyway (to make 2x4's instead of veneer... I've heard this described as not just a tragedy but a crime).  Once they were gone, the old sawmills shut down and were replaced by automated mills using a fraction of the labor.  The unemployment rate shot up and stayed up, just as the workers feared.  And the old growth is gone, not to reappear in the lifetime of anyone posting here.

There's an uncomfortable parallel between the short-sightedness of the logging interests and Islamists, if you're open-minded enough to appreciate nuance and the tragedy of unintended consequences instead of painting everything in black and white.

Juniper in the Desert said...

No doubt these earth First!ers are affiliated to climate changers.

Its a joke that both these loony tunes they think they can make a blind bit of difference to our beautiful Planet Earth! She can look after herself: Icelandic volcanoes, Chilean earthquakes!

Where do these retards come from???

wildiris said...

Engineer-Poet, I don’t think it is possible to put more misinformation, half-truths and outright falsehoods together in one comment than you have managed to do. If you honestly were motivated by concern for the environment, then you would hold truth sacred above all else. But obviously truth is neither a relevant nor necessary ingredient for your worldview. So the only conclusion left is that something else is driving you besides a feigned concern for the environment.