After three years of declining rates of deforestation in the Amazon, Brazilian officials acknowledged that deforestation is occurring at three times last year’s rate. In addition to its biodiversity implications, deforestation in the Amazon is the important secondary source of global warming. And what we really need is not to slow the rate of deforestation, but actually halt it and partially reverse it. In some respects, figuring out how to get the job done is an even bigger challenge than curbing carbon emissions simply because enforcement and compliance issues are difficult to figure out.
Still, one clear step in the right direction would be to have an American administration that’s prepared to acknowledge that the problem is real. Instead, the Bush administration will leave office with the most shameful part of a very shameful record probably being their eight years of not just failing to act, but actively obstructing action — screwing around with the EPA and international meetings, new subsidies for oil and gas companies, etc. — while the planet boils around them.