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Preservationist vs Conservationist

When people stumble upon my site they think at first that I am anti-environment or something.  If they read a little, some have seen that I am anti-Global Warming  Movement instead.  That is because I believe that the movement has a political goal not an environmental one.  Most people see the movement as trying to help the planet but in my view, the leaders have an agenda of increased taxes and bigger government with no concern about the planet.  That is why they have used the Global Warming movement, because it is so big that they can milk it for all the big government they want and not scratch the surface.

I tend to take a skeptical view of many theories and claims until I can see something tangible.  I look at motivations and results.  I am critical of the hypocritical and the opportunists.  I come down hard on those who can not look objectively at the data and the reality.

On the flip side I try to consider the arguments of the sincere and the concerned.  I think that trying to improve the world is a good and worthwhile goal.  I may not agree with every assertion or conclusion but appreciate the honesty with which it is presented.

We will for the purpose of this post be ignoring the fakers and focusing on a real problem we can address.  It was presented to me by a reader recently as a real political/environmental problem that he felt we should know about and respond to.  I researched the issue and though I did not go into a lot of depth I did find a lot of confirmation of his assertions.  So I can be reasonably sure he was correct in his concerns.

The concern is two fold.  Number one it involves slavery.  This is not the misrepresentation of a days wages being small compared to our standard of living like is done so often when some one wants to punish a big successful business.  This is people being coerced or tricked into going to work in remote locations only to find they are indebted to their employer and can not leave.  They may work for weeks, months, even years and get nothing for their efforts.  Trying to flee may even cost a person their life.

Number two it involves deforestation.  As you can imagine, on the face of it, this is not a huge concern for me.  I live in the Northwest.  The term has been used to describe logging here for decades, yet we have more trees now than when Lewis and Clark came to the territory so many years ago.  We plant 6 trees for each one cut down.  It is different in this troubled land, however.  This deforestation is a problem, or will become one in the next decade or so.  We are in Brazil and the deforestation is happening for different reasons in different parts of the country.  Near farm land it occurs to grow crops for export.  Soybeans for European livestock for example.  In remote areas it is the result of illegal logging done solely for short term profit.  Up to 80 percent of the logging is illegal.

Whether we are talking about the slavery issue or the wasting of a huge resource for the people of Brazil, the problem is a failure of their government to enforce the law and change behavior that is causing a great deal of damage to the future of the country.

The reader who contacted me, was trying to get the word out about  how most of the hardwoods from Brazil, cherished by upscale homeowners, were supporting slavery and uncontrolled deforestation.  I agree that people should know what it takes for them to get these products.  There are other options for beautiful hardwood and if the demand does not drop the motivation to continue will only grow stronger.

In the last few years, sellers of these hardwoods have been using a certification process to address the concerns of buyers. As it turns out, the certificates are not worth the paper they are printed on. There is no governing authority to insure that the products are taken without slave labor or that they are taken legally. The agency in charge has only a handful of inspectors and there is no indication that there is any pressure on logging companies to change their ways.

My goals and beliefs may differ from many who have been sounding the clarion call about this issue.  On slavery we agree, it is intolerable.  On the management of the forests we agree that the current system will leave the forest decimated.  The only differnce is that many of them may want to preserve the rainforest in total.  I on the other hand have a mindset of a conservation.  I think some of the forest should be planned for logging and in some way replanted for future logging.  Some rainforest should be preserved but not without some eye to changes in how it is managed in the future.  People should have access and it should be managed with the long view in mind. 

In terms of getting any changes made on these issues, it is an uphill battle.  It will take public pressure on US and European companies to back away from these practices.  The public would have to show their support by buying less of these products and letting the sellers of these products  know why they are not buying them.  The governments of Western nations would have to relate their concerns and offer the advice of our own experiences about sustainable logging practices.  All of this would have to take place over a long period of time.

It would be unlikely to change the minds of the Brazilians but I think people have to make choices about what they are willing to try to do.  This seems worthwhile if not difficult.  In the effort the Brazilian government may see the light.

This is at least an environmental concern that I see the point of and seems practical.  I hope you will look into this for yourself with an open mind.

I still say be skeptical but that can’t be an excuse to dismiss every concern that may show its ugly head.  Sometimes there is a problem.  And we can do something about it.

Brutus

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