“Green energy” and Amazon rain forests

People need to to read things like this before they ignorantly ramble about how great biofuels are.

At the bottom of page one it talks about the possibility of the Amazon rain forest turning into something like a savannah or even a desert. It wouldn’t be the first time human deforestation has caused a vital and robust forest into a desert-like area. You know all those references in the Bible to the cedars of Lebanon? Lebanon used to be absolutely COVERED in the things – massive, ancient trees. They grow in Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, and surrounding areas. Today on Cyprus, only small trees up to 25 m tall survive, though Pliny the Elder recorded cedars 40 m tall there. Because of massive deforestation, only small remnants of the once-extensive forests survive. Not only that, but due to hundreds of years of erosion much of the terrain in once-forested areas is now desertized. It took the ancients several millenia to deforest Lebanon… it may only take modern people a few decades to do the same in the Amazon.

It also just happens that deforestation currently accounts for 20% of the world’s carbon emissions – and deforesting the Amazon destroys one of the most important carbon sinks on the planet.

Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon
exult over you (the king of Babylon) and say,
“Now that you have been laid low,
no one comes to cut us down.” (Isaiah 14:8, TNIV)

This is not even to go into the potential effects on agriculture being diverted from food to fuel on the ability of the world’s poor to be able to feed themselves. As the article says, A UN food expert has recently called biofuels “a crime against humanity”. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute says that biofuels “pit the 800 million people with cars against the 800 million people with hunger problems” – and that figure of 800 million has been predicted to increase to 1.2 billion in the wake of the growing use of agricultural products as fuel instead of food.

No type of “green consumption” is the answer. As one blogger from Portland, Oregon put it, we need to commit our allegiance to the story that will express God to the world around us.

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One Response

  1. Sad news… Here we have Alvaro Uribe investing in crops of sugar cane for biofuels… at first it seemed interesting: I thought it was the waste of the crops what was going to be used in production of biofuels. But not… some of those crops have been established by deforestation (not necessarily of amazonan forest; rahter, by deforestation of the almost extinct andean forests).

    And more recently, the case of “Carimagua”. Carimagua is found in the tropical savannas of the Orinoco slope (BTW, I was there 2 and half years ago doing some fieldwork). The soils there are not very good, but more than 10 years if research showed that its not impossible to sustain some kind of agriculture. This land was suposed to be given to displaced farmers, but the Colombian government decided to give it to private investers (how surprising!!! some of those investors are uncles or cousins of colombian ministers, senaters, etc etc) to cultivate oil palm (to the detriment of those displaced persons).

    That’s how the “enlightened democracies” work.

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