Everything You Need to Know About the Great Lumber Crisis of 2021 – VICE

Home » Everything You Need to Know About the Great Lumber Crisis of 2021 – VICE

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The hottest commodity of the last year was one you probably didn’t realize you needed to care about: Wood. Lumber has long been the subject of debate over trade policy, ecosystem conservation, and climate change. But in a white-hot housing and remodeling/home improvement market, lumber prices spiked to new highs. DIYers grappling with cabin fever as well as increased demand for home remodeling contractors and home builders looking to increase housing supply sent the lumber market bonkers. Meanwhile, sawmills shut down and later faced a labor crisis, causing a shortage and subsequently causing record-breaking prices.In some ways, the shortage is a simple supply and demand problem, but the great lumber crisis of 2021 also highlights all sorts of other things, including the global supply chain, climate change and environmental protection, labor shortages, US-Canada trade relations, and the out-of-control housing market. Here, we strive to explain the Great Lumber Panic.As North America went into lockdown in March, 2020, a slew of businesses shut down. Lumber production facilities were no exception: Sawmills laid off workers, cut hours, and struggled to balance staying open with minimizing COVID transmission risk. (Quick note: Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there’s a distinction between lumber and timber. Lumber is wood that’s been processed into rectangular beams used primarily to build homes; about 20 percent of all wood harvested in the US goes to lumber. Timber is unprocessed wood and trees, which can be turned into lumber or pulp, paper, fuel and other staple products.) Initially, the sawmills closing…

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