Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Katrina and Declining US Lumber Standards

The devastation of Katrina is related to the US lumber industry lobbying.

American lumber industry has worked hard to increase tree growth rates. With faster growth rates, and higher trees is a downside: Weaker wood.

* * *

Next time you're shopping, visit a home supply store. If you look closely at a 2X4, you can see the wood grains on the end. The wider the rings, the more water the tree used. Faster growth rates is good for tonnage and lumber industry profits, but bad for wood strength.

The faster the tree grows, the wider the rings, but the weaker the wood compressive strength needed for home building.

But the lumber industry has lobbied to lower the wood standards to accommodate this high speed growth. The rating system doesn't necessarily communicate to insurance adjusters the real risks associated with the wood. Wood with the same profits really has a lower quality, but an artificially high standard.

* * *

Katrina was more than bad news for the residents of the Gulf coast. It was a wake up call what happens when a powerful lobby gives us something that means high profits for them, but lower quality for Americans. Doesn't make for a secure nest egg.

Next time you're giddy about the lumber industry, think about the real costs: Higher lumber industry profits means weaker wood, higher insurance rates, more cleanup costs. Short term lumber industry profits means higher long terms costs for homeowners in terms of shares insurance costs. We may get a bargain today, but the costs will show up. Similar to what happened with the civilianization of the defense industry.

We need not wait for another disaster to find out more about the risks facing the American homeowner: Greater chances of a loss of life, destruction of property, and homeowner insurance cancellation.

What You Can Do

Contact your Member of Congress to ask about the lumber industry wood rating standards, and whether the American public is getting the right wood with higher risks. It would be a shame to find out someone's ben pretending the wood is great, the standards are fine, but the insurance industry hasn't adequately factored this risk into its home insurance rates.