Amazon Rainforest Deforestation Accelerating
The following is an alarming story that was carried in Friday's Morning Star:
Sharp Rise in Amazon deforestation worries Brazil
The rate of Amazon deforestation rose sharply during the final five months of 2007 as land was cleared for soya and cattle, prompting a top-level emergency meeting by Brazilian government officials to deal with the problem yesterday.
Environment Minister Marina Silva and other ministers met President Ignacio Lula da Silva to discuss possible emergency measures after the report on deforestation was issued on Wednesday night.
Ms Silva's ministry estimates that as much as 2,700 square miles of rainforest was cleared from August to December, meaning that Brazil could lose 5,790 square miles of jungle by August if the rate continues.
That would represent a sharp increase from the 4,334 square miles that was cut down and burnt from August 2006 to July of last year.
Most of last year's destruction was concentrated in the three Amazon states of Mato Grosso, Para and Rondonia.
Mato Grosso is the centre of Brazil's soya production.
Jungle is typically cleared in the Amazon in order to provide pasture for cattle before soya farmers move in to cultivate their crops.
Greenpeace in Britain highlighted this issue back in 2006 when the Brazilian President visited the Queen. A New Statesman article back in the same year called Soya "The bean that threatens the Amazon"
Then last year, there was premature celebration that the rate of destruction had slowed. The renewed destruction comes as world food prices rise and demand for soya and beef rise. There is the danger of a vicious cycle where climate change reduces food supply, raising prices and putting more pressure on remaining "Carbon sinks" like the Amazon. Greenpeace have called on President Lula to make urgent structural reforms to protect the rainforest.
It seems like another classic case of free market economics being a major part of the problem...............