ABC's John Stossel (20/20) reveals the "Myths, Lies,
and Downright Stupidity" of the notion that
America is destroying its forests.
Lies and Downright Stupidity" continues with John
Myth # 3: We are destroying our forests?
(Voice Over) Lots of people don't like to see this.
We're murdering that poor tree. Many of you see this
and feel bad because you've been told that at the
rate we're felling these trees we'll soon run out of
forest land. The group Save America's Forests says
we've cut way too much.
CARL ROSS, SAVE
The loss of natural forests in America is a crisis
and we will lose species forever, they'll go extinct
if we don't take action now.
(Voice Over) Other environmental groups run ads
warning of the dire consequences. No wonder the
activists are waving chainsaws outside the White
House to protest. And this woman was so upset she
lived in a tree for two years.
If they take anymore it's going to destroy what's
(Voice Over) What is left? The US Agriculture
Department says today America has 749 million acres
of forest land. In 1920, we had 735 million acres of
forest. Wait a second. Did you catch that? We have
more forest now. How can we have more? Well, for one
reason, technology now allows us to grow five times
more food per acre, so we need less farmland. And
so, lots of what once was farmland has reverted to
forest. Still, even with more forest, people have an
emotional reaction when they see scenes like this.
HOLLY FRETWELL, ECONOMIST
People don't like to see clearcuts. People don't
like to see timber harvested. They don't like to
drive down the highway and see that we've removed
timber. It's not a pretty sight.
(Voice Over) Environmental economist Holly Fretwell
points out that while we are cutting lots of timber,
we grow more than we cut. America has more forests
than we had in the 1920s.
Well, it depends on how you define forest. We have
more areas in America with trees on them, that's
true. But we have less that are natural.
(Off Camera) So, what we have is unnatural forest?
We have a mix in America of unnatural tree farms and
real natural forests.
(Voice Over) It's true that many of the oldest trees
have been cut down. And seven percent of America's
forests have been planted by man. But that still
means 93 percent are natural forests.
(Off Camera) You're scaring people to death. "Bald
Eagles flying in terror as their 400-year-old nest
trees crash to the ground."
Well, certainly that's true.
(Off Camera) But we have more Bald Eagles now.
Well, recently we do and that's excellent. But there
are lots of endangered species that have -are still
(Off Camera) He says we're facing a catastrophic
loss of biodiversity.
Well, that's actually nonsense because we have all
kinds of trees that exist out there and so we have
all sorts of wildlife out there. White-tailed deer
are thriving in the East. Wild turkey are thriving.
We have numerous bear that are starting to inhabit
more of our forests.
(Voice Over) Some species have decreased. But the
populations of all these animals and others have
increased in the past 75 years. Yet so many
environmental organizations warn us of doom. It made
me want to ask Michael Shermer, what does he think
(Off Camera) Why is there all this fear?
The fear is there because if your goal is to raise
funds, you have to scare people. You can't tell
people things are getting better and here's the
data. You have to tell people things are worse, you
have to scare people.
(Voice Over) So you may be scared. But today, in the
United States, there is so much forest land, there
are two acres of forest for every single person.
# # #
Brian J. Kennedy
Committee on Resources
Chairman Richard W.