Page 24 - On the Trail of Elizabeth May
ISSUE : Issue 53
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/1/1
a tour of his mill. He took him out to show him his ranch. He brought him home for dinner with his family. And it was a very lovely way of saying. "This is the other side of this is? sue." But. couldn't say a word in English. So. it was extraordinary. (Are we able to say at this point what the outcome of that gathering is?) At least the first outcome is that within a month, the World Bank Board of Governors met. And that includes Michael Wilson for Canada. And Mi? chael Wilson on this issue--I heard from friends who work in government still--they had more letters at the Department of Finance against funding the dams to flood the Amazon than they had against de-indexing old age pen? sions. So Canada--all these countries--all these Board of Governors were under tremendous pressure to vote down this loan. And they did. they voted it down. Now behind the scenes, there was all kinds of negotiating to try to save face for Brazil. So what they basically did was to get--in ex? change for saying we won't fund the dams. Bra? zil agreed to certain environmental programs, which the World Bank then funded. Because some money had to flow from the World Bank to Bra? zil, as part of the whole structure of this larger debt-restructuring package involving commercial banks. But the money would not go to dams. The dams could be built any time. They could get the money from Japan. But the critical place where we had some impact was on the World Bank loan, and they voted it down. So it's great. (The dams, and the rain forest. When we start-- ed talking, you said David Suzuki was calling from Brazil, he's crying because he sees the smoke. How are the two related?) Well, the Am? azon ,forest is really huge. About 1/3 of the world's remaining tropical forest is in the Amazon. Because so much of it's been destroyed CAPE BRETON REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY TRANSIT INFO 539-8124 539-8129 PEOPLE ON THE MOVE already in Africa and in Southeast Asia. And the tropical forests of the world cover about 7% of the world's surface area, but contain half of all the species of plants and animals that exist on earth. So it's an incredibly rich, highly evolved ecosystem. Some of the tropical forests, like the ones in Malaysia, have been around for 130 million years. Where? as in a forest in Nova Scotia, you might walk through a hectare of forest, and see maybe 5 or 6 different species of trees. You know you're basically in a spruce-fir forest. You walk through a hectare of rain forest, and there may be 200 different species. You're lucky if you see the same tree twice. People don't have names for all these trees. Or I should say. white people don't. Native people do. They know all the trees. They know what medicinal values they have. They know how you can find food from different trees. Any? way, the forest is incredibly diverse. And really beautiful. The connection between burning and the dams-- there are many different assaults right now on the rain forests. And basically it all boils down to the countries that happen to be the owners of the rain forests, not having an ap? preciation that the rain forest itself has any value. The rain forest has value as part of the global ecosystem because it helps regulate cli? mate all around the globe. The rain forests are called the lungs of the planet. And it's not because they produce so much oxygen. It's be? cause they're almost like an air-conditioning system. They're so wet. and they keep moisture recycling. So as the different weather patterns move around the world, one place where incredi? ble heat and dry air gets cooled out is through the rain forests. They're very beautiful, but they also help regulate global climate. What's happening in Brazil is that the govern? ment has an incredible population boom in the south. Cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janei? ro . Millions and millions of people who are living in shanties next to the cities, don't own any land, and the government got this bright idea that they would move these people out of southern Brazil, away from population centres, and start developing the Amazon as a place to put all these people. So they moved their capital into Brasilia. They started building roads into the jungle. And they Ocean Lawn & Garden Equipment Tillers Sod Cutters Air Eators GLACE BAY General Engine Hoists Jacks Tow Bars 849-1616 & Much More- South (Campbells Comer) - P. O. Box 265 Celebrating f/l/lAyi ' '' Years of Savings ' DEPARTMENT STORES 'at our Sydney Rlvery Location CAPE BRETON SHOPPING PLAZA - SYDNEY RIVER MAYFLOWER MALL - GRAND LAKE ROAD - SYDNEY PORT HAWKESBURY SHOPPING CENTRE Wooico will meet any local competitor's advertised prices* OTHERS SAY IT... 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