Saturday, April 28, 2007

Would You Pay to Leave the Amazon Undeveloped?

Amazon Rainforest
Ecuador has asked to be compensated for leaving the environment alone -- specifically, to leave the 1 billion barrels of oil under the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha oil fields located in the Amazon rainforest. In return, for an estimated US$350m per year, the world will get Equador's stake in the Amazon, with its great biodiversity, and natural oxygen replenishment and carbon sequestration system. The $350m is half of what Equador is projects it could generate per year if it taps into the oil fields. The world has one year to respond.

I'm unsure if this will make it onto the radar of many countries -- especially those of the west. I fully expect that this proposal to be ignored by the world's government and mainstream media. This proposal puts governments in a tough spot. As environmental concerns make it onto the agendas of those in power across the world, this proposal forces the issue -- it demands that governments put money against the chest-thumping they've been indulging in lately. So it will be ignored.

If, by some miracle, it does make it onto the agenda of governments, this will most likely be played out as Equador holding the world at ransom -- demanding cash or they will do horrible things to themselves and us in the process. That is a relevant perspective to take. Equador is holding the world at ransom. They should however. Developed nations demand that developing nations meet the same environmental targets as that they're being held to. On the flipside however, there is a general unwillingness of governments in the developed nations to take steps to curb their consumption. Those in the developing world have similar aspirations as we do -- yet are being asked to make the sacrifices we are unwilling to make ourselves.

This is a test of our morals, our ethics and our courage. This is our world, and for once, a developing nation is demanding that we -- every single one of us -- step up to the challenge and see this world as ours, and not just when it's convenient for us to do so.

I'm not naive. This is a heck of a lot more complicated than I'm painting it here. Politics tend do that to issues. This is also very simple and can be reduced down to the question: Would you pay to leave the Amazon undeveloped?

I would.

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