It's not that people disagree with us, we've been known to disagree with ourselves. And not just among ourselves, but within each. Nor is it that people don't know things - we're ignorant on many a subject. It's that all too often the people who would tell us all what to do believe things which just ain't true. As with John Vidal:
A eureka moment for the planet: we’re finally planting trees again
That the forests are coming back is just fine of course. It's this idea that there's anything new, or even anything that's just happened, which is wrong. Simon Kuznets pointed to an observation, that environmental curve. When the task of life is to do anything to make today's dinner the environment gets the short end of the stick. Once food, clothing, shelter and so on are roughly enough dealt with we devote some portion of our rising incomes to doing things in slightly more expensive ways - ways that don't harm that environment, moving on with yet greater incomes to things which restore its near pristine nature. The Thames has salmon in it again after a several hundred year gap of it containing not much more than sewage.
As to forests - the low point of US tree cover was in the 1920s. Note that the environmental curve is an observation, not a theoretical construct. So when the peak (or trough) occurs is not something to be calculated but seen. We can also always find specific reasons other than just general wealth. That US reversal largely coming from abandoning the hard scrabble farms of New England and their gradual reversion to forest over the intervening century. Yet we do have a good guide from this and other episodes to give us an idea of the level of economic development at which it happens. A rough sketch being a little before where China is now, a little after where India is today.
Note that nothing was actually done other than not doing anything to the land. Those sweeping vistas of colour so enjoyed in the Fall as the leaves change and fall are modern, the result of simply not farming that land for 100 years.
That is, the environment is a luxury good. No, this is a technical definition, it's something we spend more of our income upon as incomes rise.
Now, we don't expect everyone to know this although it would be nice if they did. But John Vidal was environmental correspondent of The Guardian for many years. He doesn't think this is all true. And surely he should know and understand it?