Tuesday, January 16, 2007

News from Across the Big Pond

Here it is 2007, and it's a "Clive" year! Meaning my penpal Clive, who lives in Wiltshire, Salisbury, England is due for another visit. He travels Canada every two years since his first visit in 2003, visiting my parents, his cousins and me. We exchange emails every day and he keeps me informed of every day English life, Tony Blair's antics and what is going on over the big pond. Lately we've been discussing the storms in British Columbia and the mess in Stanley Park (a place he's visited). Today his email contained the impact of climate change directly on his field of employment. Makes one really stop and think.....governments need to stop thinking and start acting....

The temperature here in England has been very mild in the last few months, with the trend actually being in place for the last few years or so. Thing is Clive never really thought about this much on a global scale (except for hearing about the storms in B.C. etc) until today.

Clive works in timber design for sports halls, restoration for old churches and all sorts of other things, and today his office had a phone call from the firm they sub contract off saying with immediate effect all finished timber products would increase in cost by 40 percent ! Which is a huge hike in prices. This is high grade timber used in the making of glulaminated structural beams and timber decking, not so much the cheap softwood you'd use for stud walling etc. That isn't a 40 percent increase in design costs but the increase in the cost that the firm they sub contract to have will have to pay for the raw material when they bring it into the country.

Most of this timber comes from the Baltic States like Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Russian Federation etc and its the method of aquiring this timber thats caused a problem.

Basically teams go deep into the forests on foot and light vehicles to fell the timber late in the summer, then as winter sets in and the ground freezes in goes the heavy trucks and machinery on the frozen ground to get the timber out. Unfortunately though this year there has been a problem which is unheard off ! The average temp for winter around the Baltic States this year is up (just like it seems it is elsewhere in the world) and it's just enough to keep it above freezing, hence the ground can't be driven on, and its been compounded by higher than average rainfall as well. Consequently they've only been able to fell and recover the trees around the forest edges, and thus the price has been driven up for what is left ! Which is understandable if you live in the Baltic States (they still have to put bread on the table), but with China at the moment taking most of the world's raw steel output, it makes for an interesting year to come regarding costs for the building industry here in Western Europe, maybe not so much in the domestic home market (although it will have an effect) but certainly in all the other larger prestige projects.

The root cause of this though is of course the magic words 'Global Warming'. To compound this further, its the second price rise in about 6 months as at the end of summer there was a fear of this happening and the prices rose then to compensate.

That's Clive's email to me above (some editing of course). He wanted to know how Canada's logging industry is effected. I told him there are plenty of trees around, mostly for chipping after all our storms. Of course we've only heard about the trees visible to us. No one has reported on how many trees fell in the forest....

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