drought and brazil power crisis - caused by logging?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


article excerpt by Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society


Civilized humans have for ten thousand years been marching across the face of the Earth leaving deserts in their footprints. Because we have such short memories, we forgot the wonder and splendor of a virgin nature. We revise history and make it fit into our present perceptions.

For instance, are you aware that only two thousand years ago, the coast of North Africa was a mighty forest? The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians built powerful ships from the strong timbers of the region. Rome was a major exporter of timber to Europe. The temple of Jerusalem was built with titanic cedar logs, one image of which adorns the flag of Lebanon today. Jesus Christ did not live in a desert, he was a man of the forest. The Sumerians were renowned for clearing the forests of Mesopotamia for agriculture.

But the destruction of the coastal swath of the North African forest stopped the rain from advancing into the interior. Without the rain, the trees died and thus was born the mighty Sahara, sired by man and continued to grow southward at a rate of ten miles per year, advancing down the length of the continent of Africa.

And so will go Brazil. The precipitation off the Atlantic strikes the coastal rain forest and is absorbed and sent skyward again by the trees, falling further into the interior. Twelve times the moisture falls and twelve times it is returned to the sky -- all the way to the Andes mountains.

Destroy the coastal swath and desertify Amazonia -- it is as simple as that. Create a swath anywhere between the coast and the mountains and the rains will be stopped. We did it before while relatively primitive. We learned nothing. We forgot.


1991 interview with Australian rainforest activist John Seed (excerpt)

To give an example of the scale of the destruction that's going on, the present Minister of Environment in Brazil, Jose Lutzenberger, was one of the great environmentalists in Brazil and was appointed Environment Minister as an answer to Brazil's critics, I suppose. So he quoted some studies a year or two ago of the amount of solar energy that was captured by the jungle in the Amazon necessary to lift the amount of water up into the atmosphere that was taking place there. We have in the Amazon this huge river, but the hydrological cycle in the Amazon is five times as much water as the Amazon River itself. It was calculated that the amount of energy required was the equivalent of two thousand hydrogen bombs a day of solar energy that was captured by the vegetation to lift this water into the air. So this is a huge heat engine that drives the winds of the world, those winds that the ancient mariners knew and the same winds that deliver moisture regularly and predictably to this country and to Europe. They don't just exist, they're not "just there" the way that we think, but they're actually continuously being created and maintained by the large biological systems. This is one of the vital organs of Gaia, the living planet. Lutzenberger says that if we lose as little as one third of the Amazon, it will irreversibly disrupt this process. First of all the rest of the Amazon will start dying back because the immediate hydrological regime will have been disrupted, and then of course the climate everywhere around the world will be disrupted. So what this says is that to save a huge national park here and a huge national park there - even if we could do it, which we're not even successful in doing because the national parks are being colonized and burnt before our eyes, but even if we could do that - it's not enough. It's based upon a false metaphor of what life is and what the Earth is. A better metaphor I think was described by Lovelock, the British scientist who popularized the Gaia hypothesis, when he said that what we're doing to the Amazon is as if the brain were to decide that it was the most important organ in the body and it started to mine the liver for some benefits that it might get from it. Once we realize the connection, we realize deeply that we can't do that any longer because we know that it can't be in the interest of the brain to mine the liver or in the interest of a leaf to destroy the tree on which it's growing. And so we have to say this - national parks are just not enough. People may reply, "Well how can you say this, because we're having enough trouble getting a hundred thousand acres or two hundred thousand acres here and there as a national park, and you say all the cutting has to stop?" But still it has to be said. It may be impossible, but nothing less than that is going to be of any use to us. To try and keep the Earth alive with a few representative areas of natural places is like trying to keep a tree alive by leaving a few pieces of bark on its surface or trying to keep the human body alive with a few pieces of skin. I feel that if this was understood, then everything else would fall into place. So then the question is, "How can this understanding reach people?"

-- mark (mrobinowitz@igc.org), June 19, 2001


It won't. We're too late. We're doomed. We're all gonna die. Horribly.

-- HawaiiGuy (enjoying it@while it's.here), June 19, 2001.

So, trees help transfer rain farther inland. And lack of trees and other vegetation leads to desertification, and dust production. Dust, in turn, inhibits rain formation:


and dust travels far across the oceans:


and, it seems, can also ferry microbes along with it:


Aw, pshaw! Who's connected to whom?

-- L. Hunter Cassells (mellyrn@castlemark-honey.com), June 19, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ