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Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back (nytimes.com)
269 points by blondie9x on Feb 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments

I'm running a Kickstarter for a wood product right now and so I've learned a thing or two about how to encourage reforestation. The answer is get economics to drive reforestation.

Cats, cows, turkeys, dogs, and horses, among many other animals, will always be around as long as humans are, simply because we'll ensure that they always have a healthy habitat. The same goes for trees, especially tropical trees.

Reforestation is a huge opportunity if we invest in plantations that have managed cutting, allowing tropical trees to grow up to 40 years before being turned into beautiful products like furniture.

In order to produce high quality lumber that's useful for furniture making, like mahogany for example, loggers have to be selective about the trees they fell. Can't just chop down every one of them because not all will generate productive wood.

Maple is similar in that it's plantation grown right here in the U.S. What that actually means in terms of wood quality is that it suffers a bit from uniformity.

The reason I know this is because I'm running a Kickstarter for a remote control[1]. It's made out of mahogany and maple, but its impact is offset a bit by the small size of the remote, which also makes small features much more distinguishable.

This is also one of the reasons why I'm a vegetarian, as much deforestation is caused by burning forests for raising livestock.

[1]: Turn Touch: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/samuelclay/turn-touch-b...

Sorry, dude. As someone who was born and raised in the Amazon forest myself I can assure you having a sustainable mahogany supply for everybody wanting some does not compute. It takes ages for it to be mature and seconds to become beams. Also, logging is the major reason why trees fall in the Amazon, but not the only one why they won't grow back. Most if not all the devasted areas become permanent soy plantation where raising livestock is morally bad and there is monitoring, so I think you vegetarian reason is a bit romantic. Reducing consumism detain deforastation, nothing else does. If everyone could see with their own eyes godzillions of square meters of charred trees and burned dead animals maybe I would get more optimistic, but deforastation is a problem too afar and too deep in the jungle, denial is closer to the heart.

It's not clear to me at all that the kind of trees desirable for commercial wood plantations are the same you needed to offset the environmental and biodiversity effects of the current deforestation - especially if the trees of your "reforestation" are not planned to get older than 40 years.

I don't know much about rainforests, but central-european commercial forests have significantly less biodiversity than "wild" forests.

In short, I don't think the problem of deforestation is that we won't have enough wood anymore.

Those European commercial forests are cut at a younger age than these tropical plantations, as these plantations are growing far denser wood than European sycamore, beech, and alder wood.

Usually any plantation grown wood will be certified by some organization, FSC or another. Red grandis, genuine mahogany, and teak are the usual suspects in this category. All woods popularly known for furniture making.

These all grow much slower than the forests you typically see in Maine/Oregon, which extends their biological impact. This also greatly raises their costs, which is where increased commercial usage would encourage more of this type of sustainable growth and harvesting.

> I'm running a Kickstarter for a wood product right now and so I've learned a thing or two about how to encourage reforestation.

I'm not sure that follows. What does selling a product that is made of mahogany have to do with reforestation?

It doesn't have anything to do with it. The OP is trying to subtly insert a pitch for his kickstarter campaign into hacker news and this was his angle. Ironically, I think this highlights the very problem behind the deforestation. So long as we are all consumed with trying to make money, at any cost, we will continue to destroy the planet. We need to think beyond the $, even as entrepreneurs and capitalists.

I'm not sure there are many people who are willing to make money at any cost. That sure isn't the case here on HN.

Trump, Tillerson, DeVos, Koch brothers, Goldman Sachs, and on and on. I think there are plenty of people willing to stretch moral and ethical boundaries in order to make more money.

Oh, just look frankly at what the company is really doing. Selling ads? What do more ads do? Sell more stuff (we don't need - if we did, it mostly wouldn't need ads). Does planet Earth need more manufactured stuff?

The point is, if your company is willing to make money at any cost (all do - shareholder responsibility), and you are work for it, you are a part of the problem.

That's an unfair reading of my comment. And as others have mentioned below, I'm invested in thinking about how to sustainably grow wood because I'm commercially invested.

I don't know about cows and turkeys. If vat-grown meat becomes cheaper than field grown meat then I expect the food chain companies will switch production en-masse and while its likely that some will remain, they would be minority products and possibly different (some of the animals grown these days have been bred for such specific extreme traits that basically they are not suitable for wild living)


This is however not perfect. There are lots of basically subsitence farmers in the Amazon, who do admittedly partake in destructive practises such as slash and burn to create pasturing land for cattle.

They do manage to eek out an existence and support their families from this. Allowing vat-grown meat to flood the Amazon countries with cheap meat will destroy their livelihoods and result in even more people living in extreme poverty where there is not any state protection nets.

The end result is basically capital moving from poor countries to rich countries which have the patents and production capability.

A bit off topic but I love seeing projects like yours succeed because it shows that people will pay real money for what is essentially an art project. Long live art.

Thank you, that's very kind of you to say. I have a bit of a history with art projects, in fact. Among other projects, I built and blogged a big interactive biofeedback art piece at Burning Man 2014 called Pulse & Bloom that hit HN a couple years ago: http://www.ofbrooklyn.com/2014/09/6/building-pulse-bloom-bio...

I really don't like reading people's advertisements in HN comments, but according to my reading of the site guidelines, there are no prohibitions against spam or other aggressive marketing within comments :/

People who work with the industry know more about the industry. My comment relies on my experience.

Your comment consisted largely of talking about and linking to your kickstarter. There was no way in which that was necessary to share your understanding or views about the topic.

What management practices do your "responsible growers" follow?

In the US commercial forest operators will cut anything there is a market for, sending stuff that isn't sawmill quality to a pulp mill or biomass plant. They want to get rid of stuff that isn't sawmill quality because it competes for resources.

Do you plan to make some in fancy metals too? Or other materials, like ivory for example (jk :p).

> Cats, cows, turkeys, dogs, and horses, among many other animals, will always be around as long as humans are, simply because we'll ensure that they always have a healthy habitat. The same goes for trees, especially tropical trees.

historical counter example: easter island

No, Easter island wouldn't have had taro, chickens, goats, pigs WITHOUT the polynesian humans bringing them.

The point is there was an ecological collapse (Collapse by Jared Diamond catalogues this well)

> as long as humans are

NO humans in easter island anymore.

I'll probably be downvoted but I think it's in bad taste to use this kind of (bad) news as another way to market your product. I'll surely won't be buying your product nor recommending it. /rant

What you've said about making economics drive reforestation is true, but that's like saying that to end hunger you just have to give people food.

So you suggest planting trees that take 40 years to grow when the people doing the deflorestation are doing it because of profits that they'd never get via that method. (Economics)

It's the same with the plague that is eucalyptus, you know what drove its plantation and override of all other natural trees and plants in many places of the world? Economics! So you see that just economics might not be a very good way to solve the problem at hand.

So what do you propose to make the economics work? Highly tax meat? Or other products that are indirectly causing deflorestation?

I simply have experience in the subject because I've spent the last three years researching ways to make woodworking more sustainable. And driving up demand will in turn drive up supply, and as I explained above increased supply does indeed increase forests, as they have to be sustainably managed to come into the U.S. due to import restrictions.

> driving up demand will in turn drive up supply [and] increase forests

I'm not sure this follows. Increasing the demand will merely incentivize deforestation at an increasing rate. If you start putting controls on it, the black market will just work around it just like with exotic parts from animals like horns. Let's assume you yourself are a woodcutter who believes in sustainability. The problem is that everyone else will just be thinking about short-term profits, especially when demand is so high. (see: the tragedy of the commons) If trees could be grown fast in farms like other animals or artificially like diamonds, you might have a point, but trees take so long to grow and if the demand is high, it will only encourage fast growing and killing of trees. You mention that optimizing for quality requires longer growth, and that assumes that quality wood is in demand which would also fetch higher prices, but that's debatable around the type of tree and its use. (you yourself say you have a market that require an "artisan" type of wood, but the majority of the world will be happy with whatever wood it can get, especially considering we use mixes in stuff like paper) Due to the limiting factor (time), demand will outdrive supply.

Where did you end up sourcing your mahogany?

I believe Fiji currently has the world's largest mature mahogany plantation.

> So you suggest planting trees that take 40 years to grow when the people doing the deflorestation are doing it because of profits that they'd never get via that method. (Economics)

You can sell shares of the farm now, and pay out dividends as the wood comes to age. I invested in a brand new teak plantation in costa rica in the early 90s, and am making a continual stream of money from that since about 6 years ago.

That’s rather unfair. We should be able to distinguish between someone cynically exploiting a bad situation to enrich themselves, vs someone who is earnestly trying to offer a product that will be useful to its customers but that also has positive externalities.

We can debate the merits of a given approach, but we can be civil and charitable about it, and be appreciative when someone seems sincere about trying to do the right thing.

Seems a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The point is that he's more invested in wood because he uses wood for the product he makes. A link to the product shows he's not just making it all up.

I think it' bad taste to down vote a potentially world helping service.

And what do you do to make money that is helping us?

Nice project, but next time fire the video director: you can't let an actor do yoga in jeans :D

Hah, that was my decision last minute. We had anticipated a fitness section outside but I forgot to prep the actors with the right clothes. Then it rained and we had a ridiculous scene that thankfully only took a small part of the shoot.

Yeah, just jk, nice video

> This is also one of the reasons why I'm a vegetarian, as much deforestation is caused by burning forests for raising livestock.

Do you have any evidence that shows direct causation here?

"The cattle sector of the Brazilian Amazon, incentivized by the international beef and leather trades,[2] has been responsible for about 80% of all deforestation in the region,[3] or about 14% of the world's total annual deforestation, making it the world's largest single driver of deforestation.[4] By 1995, 70% of formerly forested land in the Amazon, and 91% of land deforested since 1970, had been converted to cattle ranching.[5][6] Much of the remaining deforestation within the Amazon has resulted from farmers clearing land for small-scale subsistence agriculture[7] or mechanized cropland producing soy, palm, and other crops.[8]"


It's pretty well-documented that ranchers literally burn down rainforests in Brazil to make room for livestock.


A global economy built on minimally controlled capitalism will be the downfall of our natural environment and ultimately the species. There is continued proof all around us that this is the direction we're heading. We have the foresight to recognize this now, but sadly not the motivation to correct it.

Read 'Half Earth' by Edward Wilson to see his arguments for setting aside 50% of the surface land as pure wild nature, to preserve biodiveristy and, ultimately, us. I agree with many comments here that many established powerful nations spent much of the last few hundred years destroying parts of their own ecosystem to get where they are. The past is the past, though, and we face an uncertain future unless we band together to change this behavior now, regardless of borders or economies.

There are so many humans on the planet now, and they all want a piece of the pie. Billions of them dream of riches, or to put it more precisely, they dream of being richer than most of their fellow humans. Yes, greed. The greedy will always win, because they are better at hoarding than the rest of the humans are at protecting resources from hoarding. Look how easily we in the US were duped into electing a POTUS that is the knife edge of greed and corruption. It's depressing.

Yes, greed is insane. It really is insane. I personally try to live as simply as I can not because I want to win virtue points, I almost never mention it, but because I think it's the right thing to do. Greed is a pathology. It feels very sick to me whenever I encounter it. I want to purge when I feel its presence.

According to recent studies of the iterated prisoner's dilemma, the greedy don't win in the long run, they die out.

The problem is that the "We" with the foresight are a tiny minority, and of that tiny minority many either despair (perhaps reasonably) or decide to use their insight to make a profit and make hay while the sun still shines.

The problem is that we're human beings, our human nature, and nothing is going to save us from ourselves.

We have been able to successfully set aside some pretty nice tracks of wilderness here in the United States. I've been out there and it's bigger than you can imagine. This isn't impossible here where I live and it's not impossible to save what's easily the most important ecosystem on earth (the Amazon Basin). I'd say the Amazon rain forest shares that honor with the massive Ocean that obviously covers much of the earth.

The problem is that we lack a story for the future. The only coherent ones are sci-fi.

It's up to the folks reading HN to build that future before this one runs out.

Capitalism may also offer answers. For example, as tree supply diminishes, each tree will become more valuable (assuming wood demand stays stable) thereby incentivizing tree farmers to plant trees over other crops.

The world changes and humans need to along with it. I'm sure cavemen once sat around the fire worrying about how all the good caves were being used up.

I think you're missing the point. The vast majority of the ecosystem is only economically useful indirectly by maintaining an equilibrium and once that is destroyed, it is almost completely irreversible except for bio- and geoengineering on a scale that humans have never done wittingly. In your example, the delay between the tree getting cut down and replanted is such that the local environment supported by the trees largely disappear and restoring it becomes practically impossible. The consequences of this destruction are easily visible even in forests replanted by the logging industry decades ago.

In an information theory sense, the information disappears and cannot be recovered, no matter how many trees you plant. Entire local evolutionary trees disappear or permanently migrate, land erodes under the rain without old root networks to hold it, once diverse micro- and macro-biomes get taken over by opportunistic members better suited to human industrial/agricultural environments, and fertile lands wither without the balance developed over stretches of time far beyond what we as societies or individuals are capable of dealing with.

Our Earth cannot be "used up" but it can become unusable through the slow but irreversible destruction of even small parts of the monolithic, heavily interdependent system.

"I think you're missing the point."

Ditto. I know exactly what you're saying - tree's take long time to grow, the world is complex and subtly nuanced, once we lose that it's gone, etc. FYI I get all that - or for the purpose of this conversation pretend that I get it and try to look past that and at what I'm saying.

We can either fight change or adapt. Cavemen once complained about demand of caves outstripping supply too. The cost of fighting change is likely far greater than the cost of adapting.

Secondly, if you're going to worry about the Amazon (not saying we shouldn't worry about it) then why aren't you worried about the lost biodiversity once under Silicon Valley? Or NYC? Or Paris? Or Johannesburg? Or Beijing? It just seems we're getting involved in other people's business when we have a lot to cleanup ourselves.

I'm advocating for changing wisely and carefully because fighting change necessarily means dooming billions of people to a life of poverty. As a civilization, I don't think we can in good conscience restrict the development of the rest of the world but we can strive to help them do it in a way that doesn't harm the environment more than is absolutely necessary (although objectively pinning down what that point is probably impossible). Even if our actions are passive like driving down the cost of wind or solar through R&D spending and economies of scale, we have the ability to make massive global industrialization safer for the planet without placing an undue burden on the economic growth that will vastly improve the lives of billions.

I do care about the loss of biodiversity in the Bay Area, NYC, Paris, Johannesburg, and Beijing. So do many people and that's why environmental impact assessments are a standard part of any nontrivial construction or infrastructure project in many nations. The effectiveness of each countries legal and regulatory framework varies but we have made massive strides in the last hundred years and continue to improve. Our shortcomings don't mean that we should just "shut up and mind our own business" on an issue that has global impact and potentially catastrophic consequences for every living thing.

Regardless of how we do it, we will all be forced to sacrifice for the environment whether it is paying more for clean water, air, and lumber later or in regulatory costs now. Like with health and so many other things, its a hell of a lot cheaper to take preventative measures now than to repair broken things later.

Not expensive. It will be impossible to repair the damage later. What will be lost will be lost forever.

This has to be a person who has never been to a rainforest or you wouldn't say this kind of shit. I also suspect that you rarely connect with nature.

The rainforest isn't just the woods on an empty lot. It's not even just an old growth forest, though those are pretty damn important too. I do care about the forests and as an inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest I go out in them regularly.

Nobody can bring back the Forests that are under where people live now but we can sure preserve the most important remaining ecosystems with the Amazon Basin at the top of the list but protect the last of the Old growth on the West Coast is on the list, too.

Please have some respect for people who care about this if nothing else. I find your attitude offensive to the core. I am pretty sure it's not intentional and that you're not just a mere troll but I just want to mention it. I guess I'm wondering if this is even a topic that you and others who think about it this way have given it much serious thought?

"Cavemen once complained about demand of caves outstripping supply too."

Got a citation for this?

This is such a massive misunderstanding of the concepts of ecosystems and biodiversity as well as the short term profit orientation of unrestrained markets. It is what caused deforestation in the first place.

Nyughh. Sad. This hits me right in the heart. I have been to the Amazon and it is lush, beautiful paradise. It changed my perspective on how valuable natural life is on our planet.

It is not just the net loss of plant matter. The indigenous are under constant duress and we risk losing a unique part of our world; medicinal plants and esoterica, wild-life, and access to limited resources, to boot.

There are groups working with those impacted by this. I am contributing to an NGO called the Alianza Arkana which is doing some work to aid the indigenous and the rainforest.

Contextual plug: http://alianzaarkana.org .

I left a grand paying, comfortable tech job to try to make even-a-small difference. I hope this devastation is not a part of my generation's legacy.

"Nature with a capital 'N' is my Religion" - Frank Lloyd Wright

Wow,we need to bring back the "Save The Rainforest" awareness full force. I see people talking reforestation and that's good and all.. But the tragedy of the rainforest isn't so much that "now there are no trees here". It's the loss of the biodiversity and ecosystem. You can replant a forest, but you can't replant The Rainforest.

Man, I love the rainforest. Why don't we hear about it as much? It's been a dream of mine to visit the Amazon. Now that I have the means I really need to get down there.

Ultimately the problem is money. Amazon based countries have this resource which can enrich the population / provide a means to generate income.

Basically telling these countries "no you cannot use your natural resources because it benefits the whole world" is not going to work.

Europe pretty much cut down all their forests during the industrial revolution and is now a developed and powerful world wide force. Arab countries with oil / gas reserves. Similarly the US etc etc.

If the world does not want the Amazon forests cut down, these countries need to be compensated for not doing so. Ecuador tried something a few years back regarding not drilling in the Amazon basis, along the lines of asking the international community to pay them to not drill. It failed and the deforestation continues. When an oil road is built, or logging road or any road, then the deforestation happens along the road, over dirt roads are built inland and more trees come down.

At the end of the day, none of us are prepared to dip into our pockets to not cut down the Amazon and this will be it's downfall

I would love to get down there too, but unless I guess the reality is it's profitable to cut it all down and the political will is there, not sure what else we can do...

Bolivia has more forest than Western Europe, Southern Europe and Central Europe together. I had a look at Google Maps; Brasilia is frightening. The rainforest gets divided into smaller parts. The South American rainforest is still larger than the African rainforest, but looks like an organism becoming devoured by bacteria.

The problem is that there are too many people on Earth. Our impact on Earth is much too high. We would already need 2 Earths. Overpopulation causes a lot of problems, not just deforestation, mass extinction of animals and climate change, but also lack of food, human mass migrations, elevating crime rates, and so on. However if we could reduce the world population to 3 or 4 billion people, than all mentioned problems should be solved and Earth should be able to re-establish a natural balance.

I am ready to help.

"Too many humans" is a lazy, negligent argument by those who don't want to make any changes in how we conduct business.

Deforestation in Brazil is happening not because humanity really needs that lumber. It doesn't. Deforestation is happening because people in Brazil see those trees in their country's backyard as essentially free money lying around, and they do not give a second thought to chopping them down.

Nothing to do with overpopulation of Earth.

> Nothing to do with overpopulation of Earth.

I wouldn't say so. The forest is being cut down because there's profit in farming it. Why is there profit?

Because people are paying for higher priced food, and more people exist.

Resource demand per capita * number of people = Total resource demand

Overpopulation isn't the entire cause, but it's certainly a factor.

(Yes, yes, some people consume much more than others. But there's also a baseline minimum in food required, and also as we've eliminated the worst poverty over the past 20 years, that raises the baseline)

So since 2000, we've added 1.5 billion people and dramatically increased the size of the middle class and also cut the worst poverty. Which means more resource consumption at all levels, multiplied by a greater number.

I should note that more efficient global transport and supply chains is also a cause. It's now a lot easier to take resources from the amazon and sell them to north america, europe, asia, etc. When trade and transport were less efficient, there was less incentive to use all resources to their pure maximum.

>> Deforestation is happening because people in Brazil see those trees in their country's backyard as essentially free money lying around, and they do not give a second thought to chopping them down.

The same as all peoples in all countries have done. It is very easy to sit in our developed countries, which developed off the back of these types of practises and condemn others for doing the same to provide for their families and create a better life for them and future generations

How do we realistically reduce population? People in more developed countries, particularly with access to contraception, tend to have fewer children by choice, but I don’t know if that can work fast enough. China’s One Child Policy was effective but controversial at best.

A bit counterintuitively, even though many people are starving around the world, globally we produce a surplus of food every year—that’s what all the new people are made of. If we capped food production, it would necessarily cap population. But it’s hard to be enthusiastic about the ethics of letting people starve now so there are fewer people to starve in the next generation…

So are you going to shoot yourself or what?

>A decade after the “Save the Rainforest” movement forced changes that dramatically slowed deforestation across the Amazon basin .... That resurgence, driven by the world’s growing appetite for soy and other agricultural crops

The article doesn't get into it, but what is driving this growing appetite? Is it a natural effect of population growth?

This and more people climbing out of the "miserably poor" hole and affording to eat better stuff (like stuff based on soy and other agricultural crops).

And it's important to note that most soy is used to feed cattle etc: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/soy/co...

Who actually owns the rain forest land? It seems odd to me that this article does not really get into that. The simplest way to save the rain forest would be for some entity, private or public, to buy it up and turn it into a park. That seems way more effective than trying to convince companies to not use it for farming, since there is no limit to the supply of companies that are capable of operating a farm.

That's hard to say. Arguably nobody.[0] Some say everyone, but then why not say that about <insert favorite national resource>? In reality, it's total chaos. Multiple generations of overlapping government grants, poor records, and lots of forgery.

0) https://mises.org/library/who-owns-amazon

People are burning it down for farmland and palm oil even after someone else tells them they own it. Enforcement doesn't always work since nobody is that motivated to guard it - you have to actively involve locals in using all the trees for something.

Would it make sense to pay locals to be stewards/guards of the forest? I imagine it would cost a pittance compared to the cost of buying the land.

> I imagine it would cost a pittance compared to the cost of buying the land.

In my parts of the world (Eastern Europe) most of the locals themselves are the one tearing the forests down, because high in the mountains where they live this is one of the only income sources they have. In order to convince them not to cut down trees anymore you'd basically have to implement a guaranteed minimum income across all those areas, which should be big enough to buy its beneficiaries 4x4 vehicles and build big houses (that's what cutting trees affords those people to buy right now).

The anti-deforestation discourse comes mostly from people living in urban areas, who do not economically depend on cutting forests down. Ours is a complicated species.

Some trees are cut down to get a precursor chemical used for MDMA.

They don't care who owns the land.


Sassafras oil comes mostly from Asia IIRC.

The Amazon deforestation problem is not the chopping down of a few trees, but large scale clear felling of large tracts of land. Think two bull dozers with a chain inbetween driving forwarding, clearing everything it's path.

Another problem, but smaller is single plots of land cleared to make way for a family to farm / raise cattle.

I assume it is owned by the government much like unclaimed land in other countries.

The Helsinki Foundation is starting to do that - conservation via the free market.

Humans are the ultimate invasive species. We complain about fungus and other pests moving their range and causing havoc because of global warming, is it not the case that we do the exact same thing all the time, and that's considered a good thing. And it's not the locals doing it, it's global corporations, many with HQ in developed countries, so it's not as if they don't know any better. I doubt we will ever be controlled until we welcome our new AI masters.

You know who creates the "ai masters"? Corporations

You know what coorperations view as a "win condition"? Monopoly and profits

You know what nature is? An obstacle or opportunity along the way towards such goals.

At no point is preservation of an "outdated" and "inefficient" system complimenting such goals.

If you can make an ai view life as more than a number and make ai into "eco system tenders" rather than judge jury and executioner, then it's possible that the ai master would work consider nature worth saving

I agree. But just like Stallman saw open source, correction free software, as a possibility for liberation, which was subverted by corporations for massive profits. I see AI in the same way. I am a naive idealist in that sense. But maybe one day it will work out the way it's supposed to. If it does not we as a species are doomed. Also I think pointing the finger at corporations is a bit naive, they simply follow certain set of normalized rules that have the ascent of the masses. In that they provide the masses with employment and cheap bread and circuses. So the underlying problem with corporations is people as a whole. That masses which don't care, compared to the few people, usually idealists, who do.

s/open\ source/free\ software/

The global corporations don't clear rain forests for fun - they do it to feed a growing world population. And the people having children beyond what the earth can support are "locals", primarily in Africa and the Middle East.

Population growth is always the elephant in the room.

>The global corporations don't clear rain forests for fun - they do it to feed a growing world population.

No, they do it for profit. We live in a profit based economy where profit beats all else, including the environment, the trees the rivers, the sea the air.

Damaging the environment in search of more profit is not frowned upon but seemingly actively encouraged when looking at the actions (not the words) of the worlds governments

"(...) deforestation rose in 2015 for the first time in nearly a decade, to nearly two million acres from August 2015 to July 2016. That is a jump from about 1.5 million acres a year earlier and just over 1.2 million acres the year before that (...)"

...so really it did rise in 2014, from 1.2 to 1.5 so the first statement is false, isn't it?

end winter 2014 1.2M, end winter 2015 1.5M, end winter 2016 2.0M. 'rose for the first time in 2015' fits those numbers.

Finally someone who actually read the article!

Where there are problems this massive, there is opportunity; reforestation, biodiversity, businesses that utilize existing ecosystems without devastating them. Forty years ago environmental protection was seen as being at odds with economic progress. This perception is changing because it must. Tesla/Solar City I hope are only the beginning of aligning great technical achievement, economic viability, and environmental sustainability.

The thing that kills me about this is that we're basically saying: "Sorry we cut down too many of our trees to build a powerful economy from nothing in under 300 years, but you can't cut down yours to do the same because we need those trees to offset our CO2 production"

I eared a lot this argument in Brazil. It is wrong in a thousand ways. Cutting trees is not a necessary condition for powerful economies, we are in the 21st century. Canada and Scandinavian countries have lots of trees and also powerful economies. Europe is actually increasing their forested area.

The only industries that benefit with deforestation are logging and raising cattle in extensive pastures. Brazil needs manufacturing and services, they generate a lot more income and jobs.

Doesn't agriculture, specifically cereal grains, require a lot of arable land?

This applies far more than for just environmental factors and is alarmingly consistent across developed economies today, see Ha Joon Chang's "Kicking Away the Ladder"

There is a bit of hypocrisy in the discussion about cutting out rain forests. Western nations paid no mind to destroying their local ecosystems when they were getting rich over a span of the last couple of centuries, and only started to care about the environment when they reached comfy living for their citizens. It's unfair to demand something else from developing countries now.

The fact that so much rainforest is gone just makes it more important to save what's left. "They must be allowed because we did it" is a short sighted argument with these stakes.

I agree that, on a planetary scale, it's short-sighted.

I think it would be fair for the nations who profited from destroying their natural environment to pay some cash equivalent to those haven't yet. Otherwise it's pulling the ladder after you already got in.

Not only that, we just off-shore all that environmental damage elsewhere. All the electronics we consume are disassembled releasing toxic gases in Pakistan, China is full of ridiculous amounts of pollution because we use it as a major manufacturing hub, demand for animal parts causes overhunting all over the world, etc. All we've done in the West is push things under the rug and outsource our pollution. (meanwhile, the US Department of Defense is one of the biggest polluters in the world and doesn't have to follow any of the regulations set)

> the US Department of Defense is one of the biggest polluters in the world

That's interesting, do you have source on that?

Sure, here's one: http://www.newsweek.com/2014/07/25/us-department-defence-one...

This one claims that its the third largest polluter of American waterways: http://www.environews.tv/world-news/analysis-dept-of-defense...

Did you read the article? For the most part the deforestation is driven by companies and large land owners. Their shareholders have nothing to complain about when it comes to their comfy living.

See also: http://rainforests.mongabay.com/20brazil.htm

Was it different in Europe in between say X and XX century? The land was largely owned by either aristocracy/the king or the church. The common folks were barely above starvation for a lot of the time.

What a shame. Unfortunately, the incentives seem to be aligned such that I fear this will be a difficult trend to slow or ultimately reverse.

A shame? Loss of the rain forest means a loss of one of the biggest oxygen generators on the planet. We literally will not be able to breath without it.

This is an absolute tragedy. I'd say that it's near the top of the list of the worst things human beings are doing I'd say that if we weren't in denial, five alarm fire alarms would be going off. I wish I knew what I could do to help stop this horror but I feel powerless. :-(

By the time my 5-year-old son is an adult, I think I'm going to have to explain to him what happened. That is, if things aren't so fucked up by unintended and intended consequences that this conversation never can happen. What a fucking delightful world that we are just destroying it with no more honor and respect than we'd give an ant on the kitchen floor.

This is sad. Anything that we can do?

There's this site, tree-nation.com that helps with reforestation projects. Any others out there?

Hurry up with the vat meat!


First thing I think when I read a headline like this. "Must be some massive database centralization project, or something."

I thought it was a reference to Amazon's competitors. The irony is that I used to think rainforest when I heard that name in the 90s.

I always think of Herzog's "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" :)


pretty sad state of affairs if Amazon in conjunction with deforestation needs further disambiguation around here.

Don't worry everybody. There is always Mars!

Don't worry, they have collected enough little trees during the Olympic games opening ceremony.

"we’ll do something about it,” Mr. MacLennan said. “If that’s accurate, it’s not acceptable.

It is absolutely not acceptable and I'm optimistic that we will see the day when MacLennan, Trump and similar will be imprisoned by the people. It is our right and duty to imprison them.

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