William F. Laurance, The New York Times, 12 Apr. 2015


he lush rainforest of the Amazon, dry open plains of the Sahara, and Orang Rimba (nomadic forest people) of Indonesia are elements of Earth that seem indispensable. For economists, the eradication of these are simply related to the developing world and should be supported. If you don’t believe this is how economists think, look no further than the recent pledge by the world’s wealthiest nations to invest upwards of $70 trillion in new infrastructure worldwide in the next 15 years. Infrastructures are already harming the planets’ wild wonders and the environment: Brazil’s Balbina Dam flooded 240,000 hectares of rainforest — an area larger than Buenos Aires; road construction in the Congo Basin led to an influx of forest elephant poachers — two thirds of all forest elephants have been slaughtered in the last decade; Africa is investing $100 billion annually into mining projects of Africa — opening wild areas to new human forces. Mega-projects in wild areas and their hidden costs can be seen as a microcosm of globalization as a whole where proponents of the projects are politically powerful, wealthy, and impossible to stop. The costs usually include a skyrocket in air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and flatlined biodiversity. The activism for these projects needs to begin with awareness.

Sumatra, Indonesia is just one of just two places left in the world where orangutans still live in the wild and the last place where orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinoceros coexist. Here, a 400-kilometer road network will be open and available to poachers and illegal loggers. The surrounding area will be planted with oil palms which creates palm oil, a substance used in more than 50% of packaged goods. The economists who praise this type of action need to look at the future of Earth and decide if this trend can continue.

Get in deeper:

Debate: Related Articles
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The fact that domestic subsidies for commodities that cause deforestation so vastly outweigh international aid seeking to prevent it shows we need a radical rethink.Arthur Nelsen, The Guardian, 31 Mar. 2015
Sarah Eberspacher, The Week, 1 Apr. 2015
Richard Schiffman, Newsweek, 22 Mar. 2015
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