Deforestation and Electric Vehicles: Are the Two Linked?
The first visit I ever made to a zoo was when I was six years old, at the Assinaboine Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada. I was captivated by the variety of animals there, and especially that the creatures I read about in books and saw in pictures had real form and substance and were alive. I was enchanted by the idea that I lived on a planet that was home to such wondrous things.
I don’t like going to the zoo anymore. I have an adult sensitivity to the fact that these creatures are captive, and feel sympathetic to them in that wise, but what really distresses me is the tight knot of anxiety I feel when I read or hear via unrelenting loudspeaker the statistics of loss of habitat, extinction of species and global climate change caused by destruction of the great rain forests that straddle the equator.
Who is trying to make this my problem?
The dire predictions have been bothersome enough to prompt my own research via the internet. I lack the discretionary income necessary to fire down to the Amazon jungle for a look-see of my own, so have to rely on the work of others. It is not comforting to know that an unspecified number of species are being wiped out (not just animal mind you, but human tribes – the very custodians of the primeval world) in order to grow acres and acres of soybeans and corn and coffee to sell on world markets (i.e. to industrialized nations such as this one). How boring.
How wasteful to raze the home of elegant creatures like South American panthers and jaguars and kinkajous and woolly monkeys, and macaws and anacondas, and sloths for heaven sakes so we can avoid the consequences of lactose intolerance by drinking soy milk in abundance.
I did discover that the statistics I have been regaled with at the zoo do not quite match the data I found at reliable websites such as that of The World Wildlife Federation. I have been exposed to some hyperbole, and wish to protest the extortion of funds and dampening of high spirits during trips to the zoo by being fed inflated generalized data. Apparently, many species, although reduced in numbers are managing to hang in there and keep some sort of toehold on the planet. I have a dim recall that certain developed countries may not exactly have clean hands regarding their own native animal populations, and that deforestation is not exactly a new idea germane only to activities in developing nations such as those in the Amazon basin.
I am also of the mind that if a country wishes to lay waste to its environment, it is entirely their business. It would be impolite to interfere just as I would refrain from commenting critically on the housekeeping standards of my neighbors. The clinker in that argument of course is that this little mud-ball we live on is in fact a closed biosphere and deforestation in Brazil does in fact affect the air we all breathe.
What to do, what to do?
Sometimes I think we have created a sort of Rube Goldberg machine that sucks in all the natural beauty of this planet and sends it whirring and gurgling and churning through a fitful, badly-constructed concatenation of pipes and hoses and conveyor belts to finally, exhaustedly, spit out a neat handful of dollars.
I don’t happen to think that the populations of developing countries that band the equator are inured to the beauties of the countries they live in. I think they are hungry, and would like to have all the things that Americans and the populations of other developed nations take for granted. I also do not believe that the people who do the physical work of clear cutting the forests and growing the beans and corn really experience much in the way of an improved standard of living as a result of their actions. Perhaps they feel this must be done in order to live at all.
Perhaps the best thing I can do is reassess the habits which govern my own lifestyle and take a look at how my consumption leads to deforestation, and change accordingly. I’ve started looking into buying electric vehicles in the future, and not just electric cars either. I’ve considered buying electric bikes for my family and I am also looking into electric car conversion kits for our existing cars. I know this is only a start, but it is one way that we can slow deforestation, which need to happen sooner than later.
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