Harperdog sends in a piece from Miller McCune looking back at the history of mankind's relationship with virgin timber. Again and again, civilizations have faced a condition of "peak wood," and how they handled it (or failed to) illuminates the current situation with regard to oil. The piece ends with a quote from the 19th-century social scientist and communist theorist Friedrich Engels, who is not generally thought of as an environmental seer: "What did the Spanish planters in Cuba, who burned down the forests on the slopes of the mountains and obtained sufficient fertilizer from the ashes for one generation of highly profitable coffee trees, care that the heavy tropical rains later washed away the now unprotected upper stratum of the soil and left only bare rock behind? ... Let us not flatter ourselves on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first."
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