Thursday, July 14, 2005

21. The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant

The Golden Spruce book picture
Non-fiction book #2!

This is the true story of a giant golden spruce in the Queen Charlotte Islands, a genetic freak, tourist attraction and sacred symbol to the Haida people, that was cut down by an ex-logger turned environmentalist. Grant Hadwin's story is the center narrative for an excellent history of the region and logging and wood production in the world.

It's not totally clear why Hadwin cut the tree down, but part of it was his outrage that this tree was protected while the rest of the Queen Charlottes was basically clearcut. He was angry about the little symbolic patches of trees that the big logging companies saved to show their concern for the environment. He didn't seem to know the power that the symbol held for the Haida people (who basically want to kill him now) and showed signs of mental instability.

It's an interesting and sad story, but it's the incredible greed and waste that surrounds the story, and the strong sense of the power of human consumption, that makes this book so compelling. I know this is my opinion already, but when you read about how the region was first completely raked clean of sea otters (for their fur), then of species after species of tree (starting from the best and biggest, to the smaller and lower quality), it really drives home how incredibly out of control we are as a species and how terribly we handle the planet. We are like rats that have taken over the house, are reproducing out of control and consuming anything and everything in our path. Foul creatures.

We can write some good books, though! And I strongly recommend the Golden Spruce.

1 comment:

Lantzvillager said...

I heard this story on the CBC. The guy basically just flipped out, didn't he. I'm not sure I understand his justification though.

Was he punished? Banished from the QCI?