Sunday, February 3, 2008

Lula's great achievement

"After decades of steady obliteration, the tide appeared to have turned against the illegal deforestation that has disfigured the world's largest tropical rainforest. Brazil's president, Lula da Silva, went on the radio in August to trumpet the breakthrough. His environment minister, Marina Silva, hailed "a great achievement for Brazilian society".

Yesterday, however, the good news came to a halt when ministers admitted that after three years on the wane deforestation had once again risen sharply.

Government satellite images show that at least 1,280 sq miles (3,235 sq kilometers) of rainforest were lost between August and December last year, mainly because of soy planting and cattle ranching. Environment ministry officials believe the true figure could be as high as 2,700 sq miles (7,000 sq kilometers).

The Brazilian Amazon has been decimated by a combination of loggers, farmers and ranchers over the last 40 years. Environmentalists say as much as 20% of the rainforest has already been destroyed, mostly since the 70s. A further 40% could be lost by 2050 if that trend is not reversed, they estimate.

Marina Silva, the environment minister, yesterday announced a new anti-deforestation drive focusing on 36 areas. One of these is Sao Felix do Xingu, a cattle ranching town in the state of Para, where the mayor recently banned the use of motorcycle helmets because gunmen employed by powerful ranchers had used them to disguise their identities when carrying out killings. Also on the list is Colniza, an agricultural town in Mato Grosso, which has Brazil's highest murder rate."

By Tom phillips for the Guardian. Lula: you cannot trust the "free market" for conserving resources and combating poverty and you knew that. This makes you the main guilty party.

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