I am among the many thousands that ponder about the future safety of the Amazon forest.
We all know why preservation of the Amazon forest is vital to our ecosystem, but the how is a little more difficult.
The river basin at the center of Latin America called the Amazon is roughly the size of Australia. For the last several million years, it has been blanketed by a teeming tropical biome of 400 billion trees and vegetation so dense and heavy with water, it exhales a fifth of Earth’s oxygen, stores centuries of carbon, and deflects and consumes an unknown but significant amount of solar heat.
Twenty percent of the world’s fresh water cycles through its rivers, plants, soils, and air. This moisture fuels and regulates multiple planet-scale systems, including the production of “rivers in the air” by evapotranspiration, a ceaseless churning flux in which the forest breathes its water into great hemispheric conveyer belts that carry it as far as the breadbaskets of Argentina and the American Midwest, where it is released as rain.
In the last half-century, about one-fifth of this forest, or some 300,000 square miles, has been cut and burned in Brazil, whose borders contain almost two-thirds of the Amazon basin.
Rainforest on fire – This is a long read.
Regardless of how many banners we wave, or posts we make on Facebook, it’s time we started to take this problem seriously. I have pondered this dilemma for some time and keep coming up with this same solution.
If we want to save it, we will have to pay for it.
How to pay and how much
The only way to stop deforestation is for a conglomeration of G20 countries to lease the forest from the Brazilian government. If we can remove temporary ownership from them we will have a chance to save it.
This could be done on a cash basis, or a combination of trade/development cash. Cash would be have to be paid in advance, in annual installments of the agreed amount.
It would be the Brazilian governments’ responsibility to police the area and prevent further degradation. This would be monitored by aerial technology [drones/satellites] and SEVERE penalties would be incurred for non compliance. These could be deducted from the next payment, or implementation of sanctions could be invoked as a last resort.
How much? That of course is the $64 question. The GDP of the G20 advanced economies is $45,472 billion. One half of one percent of that total is $22.736 billion. I have no idea if that amount is possible, if it is too high or too low, or if any of the nations being asked to contribute would accept such an idea – but I had to start somewhere. There would be substantial costs for the Brazilian Government to police this initiative and the area is also considered to have great potential for mineral assets – namely copper, tin, nickel, bauxite, manganese, iron ore and gold. The Brazilian Government would expect some compensation for the loss of that potential income.
We must also consider the ethical problem of the corruption in the Brazilian government. Is there anything we can do about it? Short answer – no. It’s their bat and ball and they make the rules, so we’ll just have to suck it up. It’s just part of the price we will have to pay.
What is the Amazon Fund?
The purpose of the Amazon Fund is to provide an incentive for Brazil and other tropical-forested developing countries to continue and increase voluntary reductions of greenhouse gas emission from forest deforestation and degradation. Since the start of Bolsonaro’s term last year, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon has surged, with no plans of it slowing down in coming years. Due to this reversal in policy that funding is coming to an end because Brazil has been failing miserably at protecting the Amazon Rainforest, which is the whole point of this money. Barely a week after Germany announced it was cutting $US39 million in funding for the Amazon Fund, Norway announced the same. The Norwegian government has given more than $US1 billion to this fund. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has reacted angrily to a decision by Norway to stop funding projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after its right-wing government blocked operations of a fund receiving the aid.
The potential riches available from the Amazon Rainforest far outweigh the the “small” amounts now being received to keep it intact. It’s all about the money. If we want to save it we will have to dig a bit deeper.
So, there we are. I realise this thought/idea/suggestion has a lot of rough edges, but we have to make a start somewhere.