Today's newspaper in Brasilia, the Correio Brasiliense, carried an article about the struggle between the Minister of the Environment, Carlos Minc, and the Minister of Agriculture, Reinhold Stephanes, a struggle that repeats itself throughout the developing world at this point. Minc is opposing new clearing in the Amazon rainforest for the cultivation of sugarcane for the production of alcohol fuel. He insists that sugarcane plantations must use land that is already cleared, and they must not burn the residue, because of the carbon emissions, but should use the residue instead for composted fertilizer. Minc also opposes the opening of 82 projected thermoelectric plants in the Amazon region by 2017. These would be plants that produce electricity from fossil fuels such as natural gas. Brazilian officials like Stephanes who defend both the opening of new sugarcane plantations and thermoelectric plants argue that they are essential for economic growth. In developing countries, as much as anywhere if not more so, economic growth is still the holy grail.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Development in the Amazon rainforests
It's 7:15 in the morning and I'm back from my first walk of the day. I completed one lap in the Parque Olhos D'Água near my son's apartment in Brasília. The lap equals 2 kilometers or 1.24 miles, but I count it as 1.5 miles after adding the walk to and from the apartment. I went out in the dark to a bright orange eastern horizon, and full daylight by the time I was done. The display in the park read 20°C, or 68°F. I imagine walking on Route 11 in Mississippi a month from now, early in the morning to get in my first three or four miles before breakfast.