Here’s the story:
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.