The Sauron White House

Feature story - 12 January, 2004
A dark leader of armies stares into a crystal globe that glows with a fiery, lidless eye, his mind bent to the will of an evil that seeks power above all else. His orders: destroy an ancient wilderness of majestic and mysterious trees, for the benefit of his dark masters. As he signs the decision, you can almost hear George Bush intone in a deep, resounding voice "Rip them all down."

In December of 2003, George Bush opened up vast tracts of Alaska's ancient forests for logging.

Sound like it only happens in films? Unfortunately something remarkably similar is happening in real life.

Deep in the holidays, when little children were waiting for magical presents and families of Men gathered to feast and celebrate good will to all, the villain of our story, George W. Bush (the W does not stand for Wizard) and his minions announced plans to make rules protecting forests magically disappear. A Clinton-administration prohibition on new roads in US National forests was waived away with the stroke of a pen, and the largest national forest in the US exempted from the rule.

The roadless rule comes from a wiser, more enlightened age and was created with the popular support of Men. The Tongass National Forest, in the wilderness of Alaska, has now been opened up to plunder by hoards of logging companies intent on one thing - the felling of the oldest and largest trees in the forest to turn into money. In the process, they will destroy the rich habitats and irreplaceable ecosystems that rely upon these giants of the earth.

Of course the Dark Lord hoped that an announcement of such evil deeds during the holidays would ensure it went unnoticed by a media that has already fallen largely under a spell of silence. The protection of the forest was the most popular law ever written in the US, with over two million people writing to express their support for increased protection of the forests and their inhabitants. The proposed change attracted over a quarter of a million comments with 100 to 1 against logging in the Tongass. But as George would join Saruman in saying, "The will of Men is weak...we must have power, power to order all things as we will."

In the dark tongue of BushSpeak, which we will not utter here, the US President tried to claim that "only" a small percentage of the Tongass would be opened to logging. What he fails to mention is that the 300,000 acres that have been opened are largely in ancient forest areas - the greatest concentrations of biodiversity, watershed, and ecological value -- which cannot be replaced by simply planting new trees. These areas happen to be the greatest concentration of economic value as well, and it will be the largest and the oldest of trees in America's last intact temperate rainforest which will be felled - many for pulp and paper products such as toilet paper. As Sam Gamgee would say, "There goes that George Bush, a-fellin' trees when he ought nought to."

US Taxpayers have spent billions to construct and maintain nearly 400,000 miles of roads in the national forests, and it will be US taxpayers that pay for logging company's access to old growth forests in the Tongass, adding to the $US8.5 billion the US spends on forest road maintenance now. "Build me a road system worthy of Mordor" would have been the Timber Industry's command via Palantir to the White House. (Actually, they don't need a Palantir -- the crystal globes by which Sauron commanded Saruman in the Lord of the Rings. US Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey, who drove the exception to the roadless rule, is a former timber lobbyist.)

Lord Bush thinks he is powerful enough to continue the plunder of the natural world unhindered. In this story there are no mythical Ents, no Merry and Pippin, no protective spells for these forests to stop their destruction. The only power that can stop the Dark Lord and the forces of evil from destroying the heart of the Tongass and other ancient forests in their plunder of the Earth is the will of the people.

"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were.... Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't."

The battle for the Tongass is not yet lost but without your help it could be. Write a letter to the editor, send a message, tell a friend. Even the smallest of actions can change the course of the future.

Take Action

US citizen? Send a message directly to your representative. Feel free to add your own words.

Send a letter to the editor of your local paper to raise awareness about the issue:

On the Roadless Rule: Sample letter one

On the Tongass: Sample letter two

Help Greenpeace protect the Tongass by becoming a supporter today.