Conor Foley, humanitarian aid worker and author of the critically acclaimed The Thin Blue Line: How Humanitarianism Went to War, writes about deforestation in the current issue of Foreign Policy Magazine.
“Saving the rain forest is a fashionable idea in faraway developed countries in Europe and North America. Preserve this ecological treasure, the story goes, and greenhouse gas emissions will go down, countless species will be saved, and the environment will be in far better shape. Sounds simple enough.
But at the heart of the matter in Brazil — home to 60 percent of the Amazon rain forest — it is anything but straightforward. Wrapped up in the intensely political debate are not just the environmental stakes, but competing economic claims on the land, an increased demand for the food staples and ethanol raw materials grown there, and a rising dispute over land rights. Thanks to the escalation on all fronts, Brazil’s conflict between man and nature has hit fever pitch. A bill waiting on President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s desk will grant ownership rights to previously illegal occupiers of vast tracts of land in the Amazon if he signs it into law. Proponents claim that granting property rights will create an incentive for owners to conserve their land; critics worry that sanctioning previous land grabs and deforestation will only breed more of the same.” READ MORE
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“A fascinating and important analysis of recent wars and disasters around the world…Foley has the inestimable advantage of having been in many of the places he talks about, and he enriches the discussion with thoughtful diary extracts and vivid anecdotes.” Guardian