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November 10, 2005 | South Carolina Headlines


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Laws are made by fools like me
Ralph Bristol
April 27, 2005

With apologies to Joyce Kilmer, I think that I shall never see a law as lovely as a tree – especially the law that would force developers to save or replace all of the trees when they build new subdivisions.


That’s what would happen in Greenville County if the Society for Hugging Infinite Trees gets its way. The Society goes by other names – Upstate Forever chief among them.  That name of course doesn’t speak to the group’s mission – which is to preserve all trees at the expense of economic development.


I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like trees, and there is no danger whatsoever that greedy developers will one day reduce the tree population to a dangerous level.


Developers do, of course, have to remove trees when they clear an area to build more homes for people who like trees. Frequently, they start the process of replanting trees around the homes that they build. Then, homeowners systematically add more trees to suit their own tastes.  There are very few mature communities in Greenville County or elsewhere that don’t have plenty of trees.


For the folks at Upstate Forever, aka, the Society for Hugging Infinite Trees, that’s not good enough. They want an ordinance to regulate how many trees builders can cut down in new Greenville County subdivisions and whether they would have to replant the ones they fell.


County Councilman Eric Bedingfield says he's working with Upstate Forever on forming a citizens' advisory committee that would write proposed regulations over the summer and fall.


Advocates say that protecting trees will raise property values.  Let me translate. It would make new homes more expensive to build, meaning fewer people could afford them, meaning fewer homes would be built, meaning fewer people would be employed building homes, meaning more people would be unemployed, but there would be more trees.


The Society for Hugging Infinite Trees also says their tree ordinance would keep homes cool in the summer heat.  Another thing that can keep homes cool in the summer heat is an air conditioner, and even homes with trees need them in the South. Also, new homes are generally much more energy efficient than older homes, so even new homes that are not YET protected by trees tend to use less energy to stay cool.


Finally, the tree huggers say, their plan would improve mental health. Sorry. Even I can’t translate that one.


I hope Councilman Bedingfield does not allow himself to be duped by folks who just might just be using people’s affinity for trees to accomplish a hidden economic agenda. Attempts to regulate the treatment of trees have long been a fool’s errand. I would recommend to the good councilman Michael Crichton’s  “State of Fear,” a fact-based novel about environmental extremism – pages 484-489.


Or, just consider a minor rewrite of Kilmer’s famous poem. 


Laws are made by fools like me,


But only God can make a tree.

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It is funny how ideologues always think that their adversaries must have a hidden agenda, because they cannot see the other side of the issue, and assume there must be something not being said. I am  . . .

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