Points to Ponder XIV

Here’s the story:


Can You Tell the Difference Between Rich and Poor Neighborhoods in These Satellite Images?

Research published a few years ago shows a tight relationship between per capita income and forest cover. The study’s authors tallied total forest cover for 210 cities over 100,000 people in the contiguous United States using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s natural resource inventory and satellite imagery. They also gathered economic data, including income, land prices, and disposable income.

They found that for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent. That’s a pretty tight correlation. The researchers reason that wealthier cities can afford more trees, both on private and public property. The well-to-do can afford larger lots, which in turn can support more trees. On the public side, cities with larger tax bases can afford to plant and maintain more trees. Given the recent problems New York City has had with its aging trees dropping limbs on unsuspecting passers-by—and the lawsuits that result—it’s no surprise that poorer cities would keep lean tree inventories.


Here’s my question:


Do you see the bias of the researchers inherent in their conclusions? They start by pointing to the connection between individual income and the increase in trees, yet they conclude that a 1% increase in income equates to the city being able to afford ‘afford’ more trees. How does a 1% increase in income raise enough money to account for the increased number of trees? Isn’t it more likely that those who have finally started to earn more money are using it to buy property with trees or plant them because they always wanted them but couldn’t afford them?


What we see in the researchers’ conclusions is a bias both toward govt. and the collective mentality.  Even if they are using the term city in reference to the people in it, they betray their tendency toward collectivism, which is usually connected to an affinity for govt.  This is not part of the American ideal of individualism.

3 thoughts on “Points to Ponder XIV

  1. Those poor neighborhoods didn’t used to be “poor” neighborhoods, at least in the US. What they started out as were suburban middle class neighborhoods that then went to seed. Back in the day, developers would just come in and clearcut the area where they wanted to build a bunch of houses. Takes a long time for a deciduous tree to grow to a substantial height and girth.

    Nowadays, developers are more cognizant of the value of trees not only for the shade they provide, but also for the environmental benefits.

    I think studies like this one are a bunch of hogwash perpetrated by enviroweenies to promote their globull warming theories.

      • I was just going by my experience as a builder in Atlanta where once middle class neighborhoods became poor ‘hoods starting in the late sixties/early seventies, but now some of them are slowly going back to middle class thanks to yuppies moving into the more historic areas and renovating the older homes.

        In WNC, where wealthier people build second homes, they don’t like to cut trees down.

        And that wasn’t a meager attempt…mine was. 😉

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