On the evening of April 10, Water Watch sponsored a presentation called “Tropical Deforestation and Climate Change: what’s the connection and what can we do about it?” The presentation was given by Diane Bates, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology. Bates recounted her experience in the Amazonian basin and made recommendations for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest.
Primarily, Bates cited the economic structure of South American nations within the Amazon rainforest as a reason for deforestation.
“Most of the people who live (in the Amazon rainforest) make their living by taking trees out of the forest or other natural resources out of the land,” Bates said.
Bates said it is difficult to find alternative work options for people living within the Amazon rainforest to counter this practice. Nations within the Amazon rainforest generally owe either the United States or the World Bank large sums of money. This has promoted further deforestation to generate revenues required to pay off these debts.
Bates said fair trade initiatives are the best way to slow depletion of the Amazon rainforest. Under a fair trade agreement, farmers in developing nations are paid higher wages. This allows the farmers to make a profit without growing as large of a crop. She encouraged those at the presentation to purchase fair trade products.
Bates also said she does not foresee the complete destruction of the Amazon rainforest within our lifetime.
“Not all of the Amazon is threatened,” Bates said. “It tends to be a locally driven (process).”
Bates said certain mountainous regions of the Amazon are too remote to be deforested. Bates added that this does not diminish the need for additional conservation efforts.