Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on February 11, 2008
The president of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, recently offered up his country’s forests as a giant carbon sink to offset emissions in other countries – for a price of at least $57 million per year. What might sound like a ploy actually brings to light many of the problems with globalization and its effect on global warming.
Here’s the problem. Rainforest countries find themselves caught between doing the right thing – preserving their forests and the carbon they absorb – and making commodities that have value in the global economy – requiring environmental degradation through mining or replacing rainforests with monoculture like sugarcane, corn, or palm trees. This “Amazon Phenomenon” in fact releases about 1/5 of all CO2 emissions — more than transportation’s contribution — and places many of the world’s largest forests at risk.
Guyana, which is about 75% forested, can offset more than 110 million tons of CO2 per year, equal to UK emissions, and Jagdeo was negotiating a deal with the Brits. But with a weak outcome in Bali, the talks fell through, leaving Guyana with the option of economic hardship or trading forest for commodities.
“Maybe we should just cut down the trees. Then someone would recognize the problem,” said President Jagdeo. “But I want to think we can fulfill our people’s aspirations without cutting down the trees.”
Jagdeo is not a blackmailer, nor is he a sentimentalist. He is simply an ethical leader caught between doing what is right for the earth and doing what is best for his people. Unfortunately few solutions available today reconcile these issues; we must find a “both, and” solution, not an “either, or.” Hopefully someone will come up with a tangible reward for doing what is right, because global capitalism supports only what is right for the pocket.
Read more about Guyana here.