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An offer you can’t refuse

June 8, 2009

The article begins, “In 2006, Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo outlined an offer to place almost the entirety of Guyana’s rainforest under international supervision as part of the world’s battle against climate change.”

An auspicious beginning to be sure, and the article, written by the same Guyanan president who made the offer goes into more detail on the plan, to preserve acres of pristine Amazonian rainforest as a bulwark against the great 21st century fear of global warming. The forests are ostensibly attractive to the west as carbon sinks, trade bait for the ambitious cap and trade policies that many in the west have latched on to as a readily available way to mitigate the effects of our first world lifestyles with, you know, the end of civilization as we know it.

I’m personally skeptical of the ability of cap-and-trade to effectively manage carbon emissions, but I certainly don’t have a problem with the suggestion that protecting forests, especially the wildly biodiverse Amazon basin. What Jagdeo is suggesting is nothing short of earth shattering from that perspective, he’s offering an opportunity for the wider world to cede management to a worldwide conservation authority, conceivably protecting the habitat from logging, mining, or any natural resource extraction along with the plants and animals in it.

Now the details are unclear. Who would be in charge of making the decisions chief among them, and whether the government of Guyana has the authority to give the land away with regard to the rights of the indigenous. It’s a hairy situation to be sure. But it’s interesting to note that governments are thinking differently about the twin issues of global warming, but more importantly, habitat degradation.


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