Friday, June 25, 2010

By the Numbers

Once again Western policies in third world countries backfire, resulting in deforestation in Africa rather than the preservation of ecologies that balance our planet's ecosystem. Like the World Bank funding of large, destructive dams, the policies foster ecological destruction in the name of finance and "progress".

The problem is, deforestation is one of the major, if hidden, causes of global warming. It goes beyond the destruction of plant absorption, soil and nutrients that creates flooding in deforested areas when the rains hit. Forests are the lungs of the planet. But our Western fiscal structures for integrating better living conditions in these areas are actually contributing to their demise.

Truthdig's article on the deforestation of Africa points out that the financial structure of supposedly using forests to offset carbon credits actually results in their destruction. It has taken local, rural people stepping up to object to these practices to stop the destruction of their resources, an issue raised at the Copenhagen summit only to be rebuffed. As the article goes on to state:

Yet that is the deal that must be done someday soon to avoid climate disaster. For a fraction of the world’s military spending, it could be a Green New Deal that creates new industries, advances new technologies and revives our economy—much like the spending on World War II boosted America into prosperity. It is a proposition that we can no longer afford to refuse.

It's increasingly apparent that the integration of Natural Capital into the balance sheets is necessary to preserve global ecology; the old policies were based upon destructive practices and industries that can no longer be used, as well as failing to account for fully half of the resource consumption cycle. As Thomas Friedman has pointed out numerous times, the financial profits have to be created out of new kinds of practices that are not destructive of the very resources that give them value.