Cheat-Seeking Missles

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Stop Global Whining 2

Adding to the post below, I went hunting this morning for an old article I had somewhere debunking the whole rainforest destruction thing. I found it, and it's wonderful. It originally appeared in the NYPost, but that link has long since expired. Therefore, here it is slightly edited, with a few boldfaced highlights from me.



FOR a dozen years, pop superstar Sting has warned that man has brought the Amazon rainforest to the verge of extinction.

He and a host of celebrities have insisted that Amazonia - 2.7 million square miles of nearly impenetrable Brazilian forest, an area nearly as big as the lower 48 states - is being destroyed at a horrifying rate.

But now, two of the world's top eco-scientists, Patrick Moore and Philip Stott, say the save-the-rainforest movement is wrong: at best, vastly misleading; at worst, a gigantic con.

"All these save-the-forests arguments are based on bad science," says Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace who recently returned from a fact-finding mission to the Amazon.

"They are quite simply wrong. We found that the Amazon rainforest is more than 90 percent intact. We flew over it and met all the environmental authorities. We studied satellite pictures of the entire area."

TV reporter Marc Morano, who's spent more than a year investigating the rainforest movement's claims for an American Investigator TV program that will be broadcast nationally next month, says he was amazed when he discovered the truth.

He says the statistics he found--backed up by satellite imagery of the forests--speak for themselves.

"We learned that only 12.5 percent of the original Amazon has been deforested, leaving 87.5 percent intact," he said.

"Of the 12.5 percent deforested, one-third to one-half of that land is fallow or in the process of regeneration. That means that at any given moment up to 94 percent of the total Amazon is left to nature. That is not wanton destruction." ...

THE rainforest movement started when the environmentally friendly Body Shop company decided to buy nuts from Amazon Indians to put in its lotions.

Not to be outdone, Sting took three Amazon tribal chiefs on a world tour in 1989. First stops: the pope and French President Francois Mitterrand.

Brazilian environment minister Otavio Moreira Lima was furious.

"We see this melancholy spectacle of an Amazon chief in Europe being presented like a prized wild animal in the hands of a rock singer," he said. "This is revolting and I consider it an affront."

But he was ignored.

Now an increasing number of scientists are siding with the Brazilians, who have for years insisted that while their Amazon policy may have been flawed initially, it has since been corrected.

Among them are Moore, a Canadian who helped found Greenpeace, and Stott, professor of biogeography at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies and editor of the Journal of Biogeography.

Both started as conventional environmentalists - agreeing with the accepted wisdom that the rainforests are endangered.

Moore, in particular, was in the vanguard of Greenpeace's early direct-action campaigns, sailing into nuclear test grounds to get the United States, then France, to stop nuclear testing in the atmosphere.

But in the '80s and early '90s the two independently started to dig deeper into the rainforest issue. Separately, they came to remarkably similar conclusions - public opinion is wrong.

‘IF THE rainforest in Amazonia was being destroyed at the rate critics say, it would have all vanished ages ago," Stott says.

"One of the simple, but very important, facts is that the rainforests have only been around for between 12,000 and 16,000 years. That sounds like a very long time but, in terms of the history of the earth, it's hardly a pinprick.

"Before then, there were hardly any rainforests. They are very young. It is just a big mistake that people are making.

"The simple point is that there are now still - despite what humans have done - more rainforests today than there were 12,000 years ago."

"This lungs of the earth business is nonsense; the daftest of all theories," Stott adds.

"If you want to put forward something which, in a simple sense, shows you what's wrong with all the science they espouse, it's that image of the lungs of the world.

"In fact, because the trees fall down and decay, rainforests actually take in slightly more oxygen than they give out.

"The idea of them soaking up carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen is a myth. It's only fast-growing young trees that actually take up carbon dioxide," Stott says.

"In terms of world systems, the rainforests are basically irrelevant. World weather is governed by the oceans - that great system of ocean atmospherics.

"Most things that happen on land are mere blips to the system, basically insignificant," he says.

Both scientists say the argument that the cure for cancer could be hidden in a rainforest plant or animal - while plausible - is also based on false science because the sea holds more mysteries of life than the rainforests.

And both say fears that man is destroying this raw source of medicine are unfounded because the rainforests are remarkably healthy.

"They are just about the healthiest forests in the world. This stuff about them vanishing at an alarming rate is a con based on bad science," Moore says.

"Anyone who has been in the jungle knows that if you want to live there, you'd better take a few machetes. Otherwise, it'll take it all back."