Unintended (But Predictable) Consequences

Here’s a recent BBC report on a disturbing and instructive phenomenon: Conservation measures in one country leading to environmental devastation in another: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11430622.

Basically, it’s about black-market lumber from Nepal going to India.

You have to read down a ways to get to the likely cause: India is expanding its forest preserves but not reducing its demand for timber. So now the wood comes from a country that has less protection for its forests.

I was reminded of one of the historical conservation success stories cited in Jared Diamond’s great book Collapse. Starting in the 17th century, Japan began to experience deforestation. So the government began enforcing strict limits on the lumber harvest.

It largely worked – but because the government also worked to limit domestic consumption. (Though Diamond also sagely notes that in terms of other kinds of resources – fish, deerskins – the Japanese did not abate their consumption, instead trading for these things with the hunting people known as the Ainu, and in this way soon depleted their land and ended the Ainu way of life.)

But antique Japan is the exception, not the rule. This is the joy of the globalized economy: globalized destruction. Imported oil, imported minerals, imported food; and indirect destruction, like the bulldozing of Amazonian rainforests to make room for feed lots for beef for American tables.

Just because you can’t see the planet exactly where it’s dying doesn’t make it any more alive.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.