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Old 11-26-2010, 09:43 AM   #1
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Default The Fight for Yasuni

Over the past decade, biologists working in Ecuador's Yasuni National Park and the adjoining Waorani Ethnic Reserve, a 17,000-kilometer section of the Amazon Basin that was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989, have documented Yasuni's remarkable biodiversity, providing evidence that its forest has the highest number of species on the planet, including an unprecedented core where there are overlapping world richness records for amphibians, reptiles, bats, and trees. Through a group called Scientists Concerned for Yasuni, these researchers have waged an international campaign to protect the location, which happens to sit atop Ecuador's second largest reserve of crude oil. This unabashed science-based advocacy has had an impact. In 2007, Ecuador President Rafael Correa offered a proposal in which his country would, in exchange for several billion dollars, keep the oil permanently under ground. The innovative initiative took a significant step toward reality this summer when the United Nations agreed to oversee a trust fund paid to Ecuador for the project. If all goes according to plan, the initiative may serve as a model for preserving intact biodiversity in other oil-rich portions of the western Amazon. But that's a big "if": President Correa has vowed to allow drilling if the international community fails to compensate Ecuador sufficiently.

* Eric Marx is a freelance writer based in Berlin.
Full story at http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/330/6008/1170?sa_campaign=Email/sntw/26-November-2010/10.1126/science.330.6008.1170 [NOTE: Available only to subscribers to 'Science' magazine.]
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Old 11-26-2010, 01:13 PM   #2
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Gee….. what ever will Ecuador do with all those billions they’ll get for their “people” if we're stupid enough to pay them off for doing what’s right?
What’s the next “pullattheworldsheartstrings” stunt they’re gonna use to extort money from industrialized nations…. will Ecuadorians hold three-toed sloths or golden-lion tamarins in front of UN cameras begging for billions or else??? We can take it to the bank they won’t ever “promise” to stop slash and burn practices. There’s something fundamentally wrong with this proposed way of “preserving” biodiversity for future generations IMHO .
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Old 11-26-2010, 09:36 PM   #3
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Is it so different from any landowner offering to sell some choice property to a land conservancy organization ? If we are going to preserve ecosystems that we value, then we have to provide an economic incentive; good feelings about "doing the right thing" don't pay the bills.
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:33 AM   #4
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Is it so different from any landowner offering to sell some choice property to a land conservancy organization ?” Ummm…. ya…. I think so. Those billions are in exchange for a “promise” oil will be kept in the ground “permanently” in only two regions of the Amazon…. that promise doesn’t extend beyond the Yasuni National Park or the Waorani Ethnic Reserve and…. the promise doesn’t cover the multitude of other equally… if not more destructive activities occurring in or near the Amazon. That “promise” in exchange “for” billions doesn’t convey ownership of the land to a responsible conservancy either. The timing of this is suspect too since there’s a glut on oil. Corruption in Ecuador is rampant and…. “good feelings” for tossing money at one symptom of much larger problems because WE'RE being taught the value of preserving their ecosystems isn’t much more than a cinematic solution. Consider this scenario….. one year after paying off Ecuador’s President for a promise…. the cameras will start rolling to document how the “global” community helped save the Yasuni National Park as the Brazilian, Colombian, Venezuelan, and Peruvian Presidents offer promises to keep oil in their ground in exchange “for” billions for their people. Those billions for their people will not result in a fairy tale ending for the Amazon where a cease and desist on oil extraction will result in a cease and desist on slash and burn… logging or….. mining for diamonds and alluvial gold deposits. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Ecuador but…. the toll on the Amazon from the blasting to get at diamonds and precious metals pock marked their lands and you couldn’t help but notice they’re a poor people with a culture very different from our own. It’s their government that wants an “economic” solution…. an economic solution that will disappear on the runway before the "global" community's eyes just like David Copperfield’s 747 jet disappeared. The Ecuadorian people aren’t worried about paying bills…. it’s not like they have thousands of dollars of debt on credit cards for "entertainment" or hummers they need to fill with gas to get to work. They just wanna feed their children and keep a roof over their heads and if unsustainable exploitation of Amazon resources helps them make it through another sunset… well then they survived another day and there’s no amount of $$$ that’ll stop them from trashing the Amazon to survive the only way they know how. A bandaid of billions might buy peace of mind.... for the rest of the world.... for now. It's still a bandaid and isn't anything but a fanciful work of fiction that won’t stop that President.... or any other South American President.... from reneging on promises of keeping oil in the ground permanently 5 years down the road from now when their people are still starving and in need of clean water as a result of all the blasting that continues in the Amazon as I type. The "global" population will swell demanding more oil and we'll have long forgotten about the promises made in exchange for billions as the plight of their people is documented by cinematographers and we... the rich United States.... will be the villain if we remind the world of the billions. Food for thought… Ecuador has the highest population density in all of South American combined with high population growth, Ecuador - Population.
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:57 AM   #5
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Isn't Ecuador one of those places that are known for corrupt politics? Where very little if any of the gazillion dollars donated by well-meaning individuals actually get where its needed?
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