REDD is definitely not Green
As promised yesterday, I want to encourage all those that are not familiar with the issues surrounding deforestation, to explore them in more detail.
Given that humanity seems determined to keep burning fossil fuels simply because they are there, it is now more important than ever that we preserve the Earth’s forests because:
1. Trees photosynthesise – turning carbon dioxide into oxygen.
2. Trees are carbon sinks – they use the carbon to grow (biomass).
3. Burning biomass not used for timber adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Deforestation is therefore bad because it reduces the Earth’s capacity to recycle CO2; it reduces biomass; and it adds to atmospheric CO2. It is bad for many other reasons, including the fundamental issue of habitat destruction leading to species extinction: Habitat loss is the primary cause of species extinction; and in destroying rain forests in particular, we are not only reducing the Earth’s vital lung capacity, we are destroying its most biodiverse ecosystem too.
Many commentators have criticised the UNFCCC and REDD/REDD+ for serving the interests of the global North (i.e. perpetuating atmospheric pollution) and working against the interests of the global South. With REDD/REDD+ being variously described as turning forests into commodities to be traded; excluding indigenous communities; and/or encouraging counter-productive activities, the situation is clearly very complex. But what is the solution? Some say the problem is that REDD/REDD+ is seeking to privatise Nature. Some say that the privatisation of Nature will be its salvation. I think the evidence of history clearly shows that the latter is a libertarian myth. Just as with the Earth’s oceans – and all creatures they contain – we cannot divide them up; assign property rights to them; and then punish individuals that mismanage them. However, must everyone who dares to suggest that property rights and the free market are not the solution to our problems be denounced as a Communist? Garrett Hardin was certainly denounced – if not as a Communist then – as a left-wing bourgeoisie academic… and for what? For suggesting that over-exploitation is the inevitable consequence of an unrestrained free market when dealing with finite resources not owned by anyone. You can see where the libertarian myth comes from: The idea that the tragedy of the commons can be avoided by having no commons. However, this is clearly unachievable. Therefore, we must either exercise collective restraint or we will inevitably destroy the very things that support all life on Earth – namely our oceans and our forests.
In researching this subject, I came across another excellent video – this time a bit longer and involving first-hand testimony from those being adversely affected by REDD and REDD+. So, please, don’t take my word for it, listen to what all these people have to say in this video produced by the Global Justice Ecology Project.
As policies and programs to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) and to enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+) are promoted around the world by global and national elites, Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities are raising the alarm that these programs will have serious negative impacts — and will not reduce the cascading threats of the climate crisis. This 28-minute documentary introduces the many concerns about REDD from the perspective of the people who are most impacted, featuring interviews and testimonies from Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Uganda, India, and California.
Somehow we must find a way to make our politicians change course because, if we do not, I think humanity is doomed. And if anyone is looking for an epitaph, I think I found it many years ago (I just did not realise how it can be applied at a global level):
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)