Some losses are painfully easy to measure – getting laid off from one’s job, the death of a loved one, or the decline of mental and physical capacities as we grow older.
But how do we measure the incremental, bit-by-bit loss of the natural world? By the number of glasses of polluted water no longer fit to drink? By the number of acres of open space and prime farmland paved over for residential development and shopping malls? By the number of animal and plant species that have disappeared from the face of the Earth forever? Or do we measure the number of corporations that lied to us when they promised not to harm the environment? Or by some city council members who voted to sell off their cities’ natural resources? Or by the carbon released back into the atmosphere when a 4ft diameter tree is cut down?
And how do we measure the loss of 240 trees lining the streets of Oroville? As for me, I measure such loss by the lengths to which a small band of people will go to save even a single tree, and by the tears cried by an older gentlemen back home, in the kitchen, telling his wife about the 4 trees lining the Oroville Cemetery that he saw PG&E cut down.
[Below is the story, in photos, of the Oroville trees and their human protectors.]
Jan. 6, I travel to Oroville to check out the trees.
Jan. 6, I measure the 4 foot diameter tree cut down by PG&E before people can organize.
Jan 6 King Industries’ 300 year old Valley Oak – down the road from the cemetery trees, in the path of PG&E too.
Jan. 6 King Industries Valley Oak, private property
Jan. 12th Save Our Trees (SOT) people go to court with their attorney, Richard Harriman. PG&E wins Temporary Restraining Order against the people. SOT will eventually go to court 2 more times.
Jan.26th, 5:00A.M. I get a call from the people. PG&E arrive to cut the trees down.
Jan. 26 PG&E puts up fence around the trees and the people guarding the trees.
Jan. 26 The people and the trees appeared to be imprisoned.
Jan. 26 A mournful sound.
Jan 26 In the early morning cold and darkness the people gathered to encourage each other.
Jan. 26 Save Oroville Trees people try to stay warm.
Jan. 26 Dave goes up into the tree.
Jan 26 The people discuss risking arrest with the police.
Jan 26 Stand-off between PG&E and the people.
Jan. 26, late afternoon, when only a few people are still at the site, PG&E cut down 4 of the trees.
Jan 26, late afternoon. Al Cartwright jumps the fence to try and save the rest of the trees. PG&E calls the police and Al is handcuffed, cited and released. Nine trees remain.
Jan 27. After PG&E cuts down 4 of the 13 heritage trees the day before the people set up camp all night to protect the remaining 9 trees.
Allen Young and Bill Bynum, part of the core members of SOT.
Epilog: As of 1/30/15, the last 9 trees are still standing and the people are still standing in front of them. However, I got word PG&E will return on Monday, Feb. 2, 6:00a.m. to cut them down. Please show up if you can to stand in solidarity with the trees and the people.
Chico and Paradise people beware! PG&E has plans to cut down trees in your towns too.