Opinion: Hambach Forest a battlefield for the planet's future

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Seeing the future

And 2018 is very near the end of this particular war — or, at least, we’re at the point where its hideousness is clearly visible.

In the last few weeks we’ve seen the biggest rainstorm in the history of the East Coast of the United States, and another in a chain of devastating typhoons to hit the Philippines. Each day brings a new report on the death of coral reefs or of record drought gripping some new region.

The carbon stuck in the ground beneath that swath of forest will just add to the toll of carnage, making it that much harder for those who come after us.

Taking down this patch of trees won’t just mean that no lilies of the valley will carpet the forest floor ever again; it will increase the strain on every forest on earth, because that carbon means more heat, which means more pests, more droughts, more giant fires.

Read more: Plant-based diets needed to limit climate change

It’s always difficult to shut down a way of doing business, even when we’ve begun to realize the stakes. You get used to doing something and you don’t want to stop, because this is the way you know.

RWE has machinery in the neighborhood — they’ve already mined beneath most of this 12,000-year-old forest. To them it must seem as if all they want is one more small chunk — how much harm could it do?

It’s the same logic that keeps Canada’s progressive prime minister busy digging up the tar sands of Alberta. But activists have managed to block his new pipeline, and activists in Germany have won a court victory that has put any further clearance on hold. They are giving Germany a chance to take a stand on this piece of forest. And in so doing, they’re offering corporate executives and government leaders a chance to salvage some of their reputation.

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