Hot and Hazey. But not in the Park.

Our Urban Amazon

amazon-riverHaving just returned from the West Coast and a city which requires wool coats of its residents at 8AM, then t-shirts at noon and wool again in the evening, I was actually enjoying the mugginess for a moment before. Now I am just envisioning a sweaty subway platform at rush-hour, appreciating my walk through Central Park every morning as I commute, shaking off my 15 minute subway ride.  

While it is not a perfect analogy, we can think of the Amazon rainforest as the Central Park of the world. Most non-New Yorkers might be offended at such an analogy, saying that Central Park is actually the Amazon of NYC. But you people get what I’m saying here.

Central Park serves many purposes including air purification, refuge from an urban heat island, etc. The city would certainly be a worse place without it. The Amazon is a carbon capturing, precipitation regulating, wildlife inhabited sliver of the earth. Many people believe that the continued destruction and loss of the Amazon will not do good things for a warming planet. But what about the agricultural boom that has partially been enabled because of such destruction? The predicament is a clear example of how the invisible hand and environmental concerns do not always match up.

As Brazil’s president–Lula, has enjoyed the reputation of being Brazil’s first green leader, the scientists who work for the nation’s space agency have simultaneously announced that the destruction of the Amazon is back on the rise. Agribusiness leaders–who conveniently are also leaders of the nation’s largest agricultural state–are furious saying that the reports are false.

Where is the balance between Brazil’s economic growth and the protection of this much needed rain forest? The real issue here is that there are currently not large scale economic development projects that serve to boost both the economy and the rainforest. It might be in the best interest of Lula to create an influential task force that attempts to bring people together from both sides of the spectrum in an attempt to find viable solutions. Otherwise, we remain in the same paradigm, talking about the same contradictions with environmental protection and economic growth. And not to sound like one of the people who only cares about the Amazon for the whole global warming thing, because I understand that  our narrow minded views of growth allow for us to see resources as money. But Brazil will also suffer from losing the Amazon as they are part of the same world.

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