June 10, 2005

The Amazon Myth

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader remembers hearing in school (and during visits to the National Zoo in DC growing up) that "the Amazon jungles are the 'lungs' of the world." As he remembered it, some extraordinary amount of clean air was created by the jungles of the Amazon.

Of course, if the Amazon were the "lungs" of the earth, then clear-cutting the Amazon jungles for farming and development was a bad thing.

Now, your Maximum Leader is not going to take this space to argue about how exactly could one both preserve the Amazon jungle AND provide Brazilians (and other South Americans) with the means to develop their economy and raise themselves out of poverty. But he will entreat you to think about that on your own.

Excursus: Once, in graduate school, your Maximum Leader was in fact discussing with a friend how it seemed a little unreasonable that Americans should want Brazilians to not clear-cut the jungle and thereby stay poor for our benefit. In the course of discussing that very point your Maximum Leader's friend, who was/is a hard-core liberal Democratic trade-unionist from New York City, said in a moment of complete candor, "Fuck the Brazilians. I want my clean air. I don't care if they're poor. They shouldn't cut down the rainforests." There you have it...


According to the LA Times, Rain Forest Myth Goes Up in Smoke Over the Amazon. In the article many informed people are quoted as saying that Brazil is now one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases. Brazil emits more carbon dioxide than Canada and Italy.

Now up to this point you are probably thinking, "So where is my Maximum Leader going with this?" Well, loyal minions, here is where he is going with it.

A very interesting passage of the article (on page two where you are less likely to see it) reads:
However, under the international environmental treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol, Brazil and other poor countries are not required to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. Nor does the accord contain financial incentives to encourage nations such as Brazil and Indonesia to rein in the destruction of their tropical forests.

"This is a very sensitive issue in Brazil and among developing countries," said Paulo Moutinho, research coordinator for the Amazon Institute of Environmental Studies. "If you want to include developing countries, especially countries with large areas of tropical forests, in some kind of mechanism to mitigate climate change, you need to compensate deforestation reduction."
Hummm. Could this actually be a sign that the Kyoto Protocol was a generally bad agreement? Your Maximum Leader seems to remember the Bush Administration being raked over the coals for refusing to approve the Kyoto Protocols because of massive loopholes like the one that doesn't require countries like Brazil (or China, or India) to disclose emissions. And then there is the other issue of compensation. If Western Nations don't want the jungles cleared, then it stands to reason that they ought to be willing to compensate the nations that own that jungle not to develop the jungle as farmland or industrial tracts.

Personally, your Maximum Leader has always thought that if one is able to seriously plan development in a nation like Brazil (a rather improbable proposition from which to begin); then one could minimize the ecological impact of development. Of course up to this point Brazil hasn't shown the inclination to minimize ecological impact of their development...

Anyway... There it is.

Carry on.


Post a Comment

<< Home