- sustainable community forest management of the Zapotecs in Ixtlan, Oaxaca.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/23/world/americas/23mexico.html?
The Proposal from Ecuador
by Johann Hari:
" At the tip of this South American country there lies 4,000 lush square miles of rainforest where the Amazon basin, the Andes mountains and the equator come together. It is the most biodiverse place on Earth. When scientists studied a single hectare of it, they found it had more different species of tree than the whole of North America put together. It holds the world records for different species of amphibians, reptiles and bats. And – more important still – this rainforest is a crucial part of the planet's lungs, inhaling huge amounts of heat-trapping gases and keeping them out of the atmosphere.
Yet almost all the pressure from the outside world today is to saw it down. Why? Because underneath that rainforest there are almost a billion barrels of untapped oil, containing 400 million tones of planet-cooking gases. We crave it. We howl for it. Unlike biodiversity and a safe climate, it's tradable for cash.
Here is a textbook example of what is driving both the sixth great extinction and global warming. We have been putting short-term profits for a few ahead of the long-term needs of our species. Every rainforest on Earth is being reduced to the money that can be stripped from it: yesterday, Brazil's Chamber of Deputies voted to slash the amount of the Amazon that must be preserved by landowners. Except this time, for the first time, the people of Ecuador have offered us an alternative – a way to break this pattern. Alberto Acosta, the former energy minister who drew up the plan, calls it a punto de ruptura – a turning point, one that "questions the logic of extractive development" that drilled us into this species-swallowing hole.
Here's the offer. The oil beneath the rainforest is worth about $7bn. Everybody knows that a stable climate, biodiversity and functioning lungs are worth far more than that. But until now, nobody has been willing to pay. Ecuador's democratic government says that, if the rest of the world offers just half of what the oil is worth – $3.5bn – they will keep the rainforest standing and alive and working for us all. In a country where 38 per cent live in poverty and 13 per cent are on the brink of starvation, it's an incredibly generous offer, and one that is popular in the rainforest itself. As one of its residents, Julia Cerda, 45, told New Internationalist magazine: "With oil, the government just sells it to richer countries and we're left with nothing, no birds or animals or trees."
No country with oil has ever considered leaving it in the ground because the consequences of digging it up are too disastrous. This is a startling attempt to reverse one of the greatest dysfunctions in the global economic system. The market considers things like species diversity, the climate, and the rainforests to be "externalities" – factors not affected by the price and profit mechanisms, so irrelevant, and dispensable. It's a system that, as Oscar Wilde put it, "knows the price of everything and the value of nothing". The people of Ecuador are trying to find a way to get us to see the value of some of the most important things on Earth.
They first made this offer in 2006. So how has the world responded? Chile has offered $100,000. Spain has offered $1.4m. Germany initially offered $50m, then pulled out. Now President Correa is warning that they can't wait forever in a country where 13 per cent are close to starving. If they don't have $100m in the pot by the end of this year, he says, they will have no choice but to pursue Plan B – the digging and destruction of the rainforest.
If one rainforest seems a small matter to you, remember that the head of one deposed French king, the punishment of one broken country and the deposing of one Iranian prime minister seemed fairly minor once.
This, too, could be a moment where history branches into two directions. On the path to the right, we turn down the chance to restrain ourselves, and decide with a shrug to burn all the oil left in the world's soils, and hack down all the remaining rainforests. Professor James Hansen, the Nasa climatologist, explains where this ends: "We would set the planet on a course to the ice-free state, with a sea level 75 metres higher. Coastal disasters would occur continually. The only uncertainty is the time it would take for complete ice sheet disintegration."
But there is another path, where we choose to protect humanity's habitat – and are prepared to pay for it." (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/05/26-6)