Re: [OPE-L] accelerated destruction of the Amazon rainforest

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Mon May 23 2005 - 10:00:00 EDT

Rain forests do have more species than temperate and
boreal forests, but from the standpoint of global warming
the destruction of either releases large quantities of CO2.

The ecological damage and transformation of the mediteranean
basin as a result of deforestation 2 to 3 thousand years
ago, produced vast ecological changes, producing large 
semi-arid areas in what were once forested land.

It is just that it is too easy to criticise the government
of Brazil in these circumstances when they are doing no more
than what is normal for the development of capitalist
and even pre-capitalist agriculture.

You are holding up standards that could only possibly apply
in a planned world economy - the preservation of forest lands
in one part of the world to benefit another part.

In the absence of a planned world economy you can not criticise
the head of state in an economy dependent on the world
market for allowing the production of exports demanded
by that world market.

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L on behalf of Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Sent: Mon 5/23/2005 2:48 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] accelerated destruction of the Amazon rainforest
> We have to be cautious about lambasting the Brazileans here>
> We in Europe destroyed our virgin forests in the neolithic
> revolution with further final clearances in the middle ages.
> That was a precondition for the development of capitalist
> civilisation.>
> Much of the amazonian forest is secondary regrowth after
> the original neolithic agricultural system of the basin
> was destroyed by the extinction of the populations there
> after european contact.
> The process of replacement of forests by agriculture is
> a normal phase in the development of pre-capitalist, let
> alone capitalist society.

Paul C,

To begin with,  "the Brazilians" aren't being lambasted in the
story below.  Rather,  the Governor of  the state of Mato Grosso,
who happens to own the world's largest soybean corporation [!], is
the party held largely responsible.  In addition, the  Lula government is
held to be complicit in this process because they have not taken effective
policies which protected the rainforest from this devastation.
It sounds is if this is another example (similar to Goias?) of divisions
between the federal and state governments in Brazil.

Secondly, your analogy to the destruction long ago in Europe of
virgin forest  fails to take into account a crucially important
distinction:  i.e. the story in  the Amazon concerns the destruction of the
world's largest _rain_ forest.

The most important difference is in terms of the _global_ environmental
consequences.  In addition to threatening the extinction of many species
(some estimate that one-half of the Earth's species of plants, animals,
and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened in the
next 25 years if this devastation of the Brazilian rain forest continues
apace) and the implications of this for medicine and disease,  the
destruction of the rain forest will mean less rain, less oxygen, more
carbon dioxide, and more *global warming*.

This global warming has implications for _every_ part of the world.
For instance, this climatic change has enormous implications in terms
of agricultural productivity and patterns of agricultural specialization in
many parts of the world.  It also has long-term human health

An examination of this story should tell us that this destruction is
largely related to the agenda of Neo-Liberalism: all 'barriers' to
the expansion of capital accumulation are being lifted, no matter
what the long-term human and environmental consequences.

In solidarity, Jerry


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