Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thomas Friedman on tropical deforestation

From today's N.Y. Times.

Friedman describes the state of the problem (it's all about relative discount rates isn't it?), and the need for wholesale change in the way we go about encouraging economic development.

He sums it up in one sentence: "But it takes money."

Connection between this post and the previous one?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's definitly discount rates. As we've discussed in class, the poor countries need the money now and so those nations/people that are poor and living in the forested areas of the Amazon are going to do what they have to in order to survive, just like anyone else would. In relation to the previous posting about meat production, right now the greater incentive is to chop down trees for Brazilian Cattle to graze, which the US is, I imagine, still the leading consumer of, instead of preserving the forest. We're saying we value the beef more than the forest right now, so beef is bringing in a higher rate of income than saving the forest for the future, which the locals in the area may never see anyway.

hunter hay

Anonymous said...

Like Hunter stated it is all about discount rates. Brazil has a high discount rate so present value is worth a whole lot more now rather than their concern with future dollars. As stated in class if the rain forest are to be saved they need to be bought. Also as stated in class, more than likely Brazil owes another country money. The country that is owed, their conservation/non-profit organization's could step in a buy the debt and set aside the rain forest. With this said all three parties will benefit; the country that is owed will some of their money back, Brazil will be relieved of some debt, and the conservation group will save the 38% which could help lower C02.

Lee Grimsley

KayKay said...

Tropical rainforest as noted in the lecture notes possesses numerous non-use values. However, to an individual living in need the value these resources possess in the future can not compensate for their present financial needs. As such there will be a high discount rate as the resource would be viewed as being more valuable in the present than in the future. To address this issue there is a need for the creation of policies and market-based systems that places a high value on practicing conservation such as debt-for-nature-swaps. If the money accrued from such efforts return back to these communities through developing pro-poor growth policies that leads to econmic growth, this could result in the mitigation of bad practices and ensure the presence of tropical rainforest in future years.
Ralna Lamb, Cermes Student

KayKay said...

Tropical rainforest as noted in the lecture notes possesses numerous non-use values. However, to an individual living in need the value these resources possess in the future can not compensate for their present financial needs. As such there will be a high discount rate as the resource would be viewed as being more valuable in the present than in the future. To address this issue there is a need for the creation of policies and market-based systems that places a high value on practicing conservation such as debt-for-nature-swaps. If the money accrued from such efforts return back to these communities through developing pro-poor growth policies that leads to econmic growth, this could result in the mitigation of bad practices and ensure the presence of tropical rainforest in future years.
Ralna Lamb, Cermes Student

Arlene said...

For indigenous people who live in and around rainforests, it is definitely more valuable for them to cut trees today than to worry about conservation. (similar to the "rational" fisher)

As a Belizean, I definitely understand why the deforestation rate is so high in Brazilian rainforests (although the reasons are a bit different).

Even though Belize has so much terrestrial protected areas, it is sad to say that we have a high level of deforestation that is higher than that of Central America.

Solving the deforestation problem is so much easier said than done. It's not only about buying over forests and the problem will be solved.
I disagree with the phrase "If rainforests are to be saved, they must be bought."
It may be part of the solution, but not the entire solution. What about the rights of the indigenous people? They must be provided with economic incentives to encourage conservation practices. They also need to be provided with alternative sustainable livelihoods which will allow them to continue using the forest sustainably.

The Brazilian man in the article mentioned he needs assistance from the global market so that he can sell his products and support his livelihood. What is need are opportunities for alternative economic development!!

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