Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"The market forces of globalization are invading the Amazon"

With an opening line like that who needs a title.

Linked to the previous post we can see that the relentless forces of globalisation continue.

This article in the National Geographic makes interesting reading.

The is also related to work by British Nobel Prize winner Clive Granger on [PDF]Dynamics of Deforestation and Growth in the Brazilian Amazon. He also presented this work at the recent World Congress in Kyoto.

There are also numerous books on this subject coming out including:



The Last of the Amazon

Brazil's dilemma: Allow widespread—and profitable—destruction of the rain forest to continue, or intensify conservation efforts.

The market forces of globalization are invading the Amazon, hastening the demise of the forest and thwarting its most committed stewards. In the past three decades, hundreds of people have died in land wars; countless others endure fear and uncertainty, their lives threatened by those who profit from the theft of timber and land. In this Wild West frontier of guns, chain saws, and bulldozers, government agents are often corrupt and ineffective—or ill-equipped and outmatched. Now, industrial-scale soybean producers are joining loggers and cattle ranchers in the land grab, speeding up destruction and further fragmenting the great Brazilian wilderness.

During the past 40 years, close to 20 percent of the Amazon rain forest has been cut down—more than in all the previous 450 years since European colonization began. The percentage could well be far higher; the figure fails to account for selective logging, which causes significant damage but is less easily observable than clear-cuts. Scientists fear that an additional 20 percent of the trees will be lost over the next two decades. If that happens, the forest's ecology will begin to unravel. Intact, the Amazon produces half its own rainfall through the moisture it releases into the atmosphere. Eliminate enough of that rain through clearing, and the remaining trees dry out and die. When desiccation is worsened by global warming, severe droughts raise the specter of wildfires that could ravage the forest. Such a drought afflicted the Amazon in 2005, reducing river levels as much as 40 feet (12 meters) and stranding hundreds of communities. Meanwhile, because trees are being wantonly burned to create open land in the frontier states of Pará, Mato Grosso, Acre, and Rondônia, Brazil has become one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. The danger signs are undeniable.

All of it starts with a road. Except for a handful of federal and state highways—including the east-west Trans-Amazon Highway and the controversial BR-163, the "soy highway," which splits the heart of the Amazon along 1,100 miles (1,770 kilometers) from southern Mato Grosso north to Santarém in Pará—nearly every road in the Amazon is unauthorized. There are more than 105,000 miles (170,000 kilometers) of these roads, most made illegally by loggers to reach mahogany and other hardwoods for the lucrative export market.

In Brazil, the events set in motion by logging are almost always more destructive than the logging itself. Once the trees are extracted and the loggers have moved on, the roads serve as conduits for an explosive mix of squatters, speculators, ranchers, farmers, and, invariably, hired gunmen. The land sharks follow the roads deep into previously impenetrable forest, then destroy tracts to make it look as if they own them. Land thievery is committed through corruption, strong-arm tactics, and fraudulent titles and is so widespread that Brazilians have a name for it: grilagem, from the Portuguese word grilo, or cricket. Grileiros, the practitioners, have been known to age phony land titles in a drawer full of hungry crickets. When Brazil's agrarian reform agency, Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária, reviewed Amazonian land ownership records over the past three years, it voided more than 62,000 claims that appeared to be fraudulent.


Hat-tip to Living-in-a-toxic-world.

2 comments:

Biopolitical said...

Market forces? The Amazon is falling victim to lack of property rights and government policies.

Fortunately, not everything there is bad news. According to the article exports are lucrative for Brazilians.

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