Judging from Bonnie Bogart-Brown's July 28 My Turn [When Human Management Isn't Such a Good Thing], she'd be just as happy living in a cave. More power to her, but most of us - me included - aren't interested in rolling the clock back 5,000 years. We enjoy life's little conveniences: food on our tables, a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and, more recently, computers, cell phones and a host of life-saving advances in medical technologies that would have astonished our forbearers.
I wouldn't know Ms. Brown if she walked past me, and I have no idea how she lives, but if she has a computer and a cell phone, she can thank the mining industry for delivering the metals without which most of our technological advancements, including computers and cell phones would not be possible.
But if she wrote her "My Turn" on paper with pencil, she can thank the timber industry for delivering the cedar and pulpwood necessary to make her paper and most of her pencil. She can thank the mining industry for the graphite in her pencil. It's actually a blend of clay and powdered graphite.
Unless Ms. Brown lives in a tent - made from cotton or linen [thank you farmers] - her house is probably made from wood, which is renewable, recyclable, biodegradable, carbon neutral and more energy efficient than any other structural building material on earth. She should thank her local logger and sawmill worker for the roof over her head.
On the off chance that Ms. Brown lives in a tent made from nylon, she should thank DuPont chemist, Wallace Carothers. Nylon has become part of the fabric of our lives, literally and figuratively. Carothers' first experiments involved synthetic polymers made from latex, a milky substance originally tapped from rubber trees. Today's "rubber" tires are made from polymers, just like nylon. Those of us who drive cars know all about tires. I don't know if Ms. Brown owns a car or rides a bicycle, but if she bicycles, she can again thank the mining industry for the frame and DuPont for the tires.
As for fracking, which has been an enormous boost to our domestic economy, I'll only say that I'm damned glad our energy prices are down and that our nation is no longer dependent on oil from the Middle East. We don't have many friends in that part of the world.
The take home message here is that there is not a job or a product on the face of the earth that is not a direct result of the harvest or extraction of a raw material and its conversion to a finished product. So without those pesky managers of things - loggers, miners, sawmill workers, farmers, oil field workers, ranchers, iron and steelworkers, autoworkers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, chemists, engineers, foresters and all the rest - we would indeed still all be living in caves.
Yes, we should be conserving our natural resources, and we can do a better job than we are currently doing, especially in "managing" our federal forests. (There's that word that sends Ms. Bogart-Brown into a tizzy.) But the idea that the conveniences of life we all enjoy can be delivered to our doorstep without laborers profiting from their hard work - as Ms. Bogart-Brown suggests - is a pipe dream. Pipes, by the way, are made from plastic [oil], though for a long time they were made from lead [mining] and, before that, wood [logging].
Just sayin' - as the young generations like to remind us today.
Jim Petersen is founder and president of The Evergreen Foundation in Dalton Gardens.