Lessons From The Future



Volume I
Lessons From The Future


As regular readers know I sometimes take the contrarian side of controversial subjects. I am on nobody's regular payroll and I have no colleagues in industry or academia that restrict my thinking. This enables me to often take a radically different view.

The whole Amazonian rain forest scare is overblown. It's hype running rampant.

Gilberto Mestrinho, Governor of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, is the only Brazilian governor to have served three terms in the same state. He is there on the front lines. He should have more credibility than those who fly to downtown Rio for a week-end and return as world jungle authorities.

We here in the temperate climate of North America have little idea of what life in a tropical jungle is like. Although I have not been to the Amazon, I have spent years in other tropical jungles from Haiti to Fiji and Papua New Guinea to Africa. Have we any right telling Brazilians what they should do? We get upset when other Canadians, say from Quebec, tell us what language to speak. Imagine how we would react if someone from another hemisphere told us what to do! Perhaps we should respect this out-spoken governor's beliefs.

Governor Mestrinho doesn't beat around the palmetto. He says minerals should be extracted where feasible and necessary. They should cut timber and hunt the jacure (Amazonian alligator). He has suggested the installation of the so-called Amazonian Code, which would transfer environmental control to the nine states in the region. He has had little support from other governors. He isn't popular with environmentalists. He is unbelievable popular with his voters. Don't be surprised if Amazonia becomes a new sovereign state. After all, one rumor is that a Japanese group offered US $15 BILLION for the gold rights in Amazonia, and was turned down. For someone trying to give his people a higher standard of living, equality and freedom to run their own lives, Mestrinho is walking the high road, a rough route in any jungle, tropical or political.

As someone on the spot, he also has facts. Mestrinho says "the Amazon is the least destroyed place in the world. Since the arrival of the Europeans some 500 years ago, only 8.5 percent of the Amazon has been deforested".

In the governor's state only 1.24 percent has been cut. I do not support pollution or the wholesale clear cutting of any jungle, I am saying that especially in view of our clearing of Canadian forests, the people who live in a region are, or will soon learn to be, the best caretakers. Canadians long ago clear cut most of the most liveable areas of our country. Should we bulldoze our cities, replant the lost forests, and return to the way of life of the original inhabitants of North America?

Another source, Norman Elder, President of the Canadian Explorer's Club who has lived for months near the Amazon on numerous occasions says those "they are burning out the lungs of the planet" are exaggerated. His book on the Amazon "This Thing of Darkness, written in 1979 before most people knew what a rainforest was, was so good that Prince Philip wrote the forward. Elder flew with the Amazonian tribal chief who recently visited Canada and the U.S., as well as with several Brazilian bush pilots. Incidentally, how did that tribal spokesman end up with a $100,000 Cessna airplane? The Body Shop bought it for him because he did such a good job organizing the gathering of natural products there (that were subsequently incorporated into The Body Shop's range of products) in the jungle and such a good job in North America promoting their company.

Global warming, if true, may be generally beneficial. Major movements on a planetary scale are beyond the control of man - at the moment.

More information:

This Thing of Darkness, Published by NC Press, Box 4010, Terminal A, Toronto, Ontario.

In the U.S. by Everest House, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036.

Norman Elder, 140 Bedford Ave., Toronto, Ontario. Phone: 416/920-0120.


* * *

< previous | chapter index | next >
back to Main Chapter Listing
back to Home Page