Rush Limbaugh: Forest Acreage Debate and Poll
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Rush Limbaugh, "Do you know we have more acreage of forest land in the United States today than we did at the time the constitution was written." (Radio show, 2/18/94)
In what are now the 50 U.S. states, there were 850 million acres of forest land in the late 1700s vs. only 730 million today (The Bum's Rush, p. 136). Limbaugh's claim also ignores the fact that much of today's forests are single-species tree farms, as opposed to natural old-growth forests which support diverse ecosystems.
PRO 3 Rush's answer to Fair
Enormous tracts of trees were destroyed by settlers in this country, without being replanted. Today, reforestation is a critical component of the U.S. lumber industry. Furthermore, with increasingly sophisticated measuring methods, the more sure we are about the rapidly increasing rate of forest growth in the continental United States. These are the current facts: In 1952, the U.S. had 664 million acres of forest land. In 1987 the number had climbed to 731 million acres, according to the most recent numbers available in the U.S. Statistical Abstract, 1993-1994 edition. "According to the U.S. Forest Service, annual timber growth in the U.S. now exceeds harvest by 37 percent. Annual growth has exceeded harvest every year since 1952. In 1992, just 384,000 acres -- six-tenths of 1 percent of the National Forest land open to harvesting -- were actually harvested. As a result of growth steadily exceeding harvests, the number of wooded acres in the U.S. has grown 20 percent in the past twenty years. The average annual wooded growth in the U.S. today is an amazing three times what it was in 1920. In Vermont, for example, the area covered by forests has increased from 35 percent a hundred years ago to about 76 percent today." -- Joseph Bast, Peter Hill and Richard Rue, Eco-Sanity: A Common Sense Guide to Environmentalism (Madison Books: 1994), p. 23.
CON 4Limbaugh's rebuttal is a lengthy dodge, which compares the amount of forest land in the U.S. today to that in 1920. But the Constitution was written in 1787, not 1920.