Destroy Rainforests to Grow Sugar Cane?


One Side of the Story

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Primate scientist Jane Goodall said on Wednesday the race to grow crops for vehicle fuels is damaging rain forests in Asia, Africa and South America and adding to the emissions blamed for global warming.

Picture Credit: (Irene Roxanne)
“We’re cutting down forests now to grow sugarcane and palm oil for biofuels and our forests are being hacked into by so many interests that it makes them more and more important to save now,” Goodall said on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative, former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s annual philanthropic meeting.
Palm Oil Pollution

As new oil supplies become harder to find, many countries such as Brazil and Indonesia are racing to grow domestic sources of vehicle fuels, such as ethanol from sugarcane and biodiesel from palm.

Rain Forests being sacrificed for Palm Oil and Sugar Cane Production

Goodall said “the problem is especially bad in the Indonesian rain forest where large amounts of palm nut oil is being made. Growers in Uganda — where her nonprofit group works to conserve Great Apes — are also looking to buy large parcels of rain forest and cut them down to grow sugar cane, while in Brazil, forest is cleared to grow sugar cane.”

Gorilla in the Mist. (Picture Credit: P Silver)

Final Comments from Jane Goodall

“Biofuel isn’t the answer to everything; it depends where it comes from,” she said. “All of this means better education on where fuels are coming from are needed.”

Another important point that was not mentioned in this article was with the destruction of forests and deforestation, then the animals that inhabit these forests are loosing ground for survival and possibly extinction.

Deforestation of the Amazon on the Rise?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) Deforestation of the Amazon has surged in recent months and is likely to rise in 2008 for the first time in four years, a senior Brazilian government scientist said on Wednesday. The rise raises questions over Brazil’s assertion that its environmental policies are effectively protecting the world’s biggest rain forest, whose destruction is a major source of carbon emissions that drive global warming.

Another Side of the Story

Brazilian Officials Defend using the rainforest for growing sugar cane.

From the International Harold Tribune:

BRASILIA, Brazil: Brazilian agricultural officials and biofuel industry representatives defended using already devastated parts of the Amazon rainforest to grow sugarcane for ethanol, denying such cultivation would harm the region.

Brazil’s part of the rainforest, covers 1.6 square miles

Brazil’s extensive use of ethanol and other biofuels has put it at the forefront of global efforts to fight climate change. But the country is also home to most of the Amazon rainforest, which scientists say plays an important role in cooling the Earth Brazil’s share of the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, covers an area of about 4.1 million square kilometers (1.6 million square miles); 20 percent of that land has been razed.

Environmentalists say that runoff from sugar mills will pollute the region regardless. And, because it’s cheaper to raze virgin forest than recover already-devastated lands, they warn illegal deforestation will be hard to control once Amazon sugar cane production reaches wide support.

Brazilian Official Comments

“Environmentally protected areas must be protected, but there are natural niches and others that man has already exploited that can be used to grow sugarcane,” said Frederico Duraes, head of agro-energy at the government’s agriculture research institute.

Final Comment

Hypocrisy at its best. Has anyone considered the long range effects on the environment, climate change and habitat destruction of complete ecosystems after the magnificent rainforests are destroyed and clear burned to kill all vegetation? It seems Brazil cares more about revenues from biodiesel products, but has little regard for its rainforest and its inhabitants. 20% of Brazil’s portion of the rainforest has already been destroyed. How many more acres of virgin rain forest will be destroyed for the biofuel’s cause. The is not a green movement, but a pitch black movement.

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3 Responses to Destroy Rainforests to Grow Sugar Cane?

  1. Michel October 20, 2008 at 3:05 pm #

    I tend to trust what Ms. Goodall says about the primates and her problems with the harming of the rainforests. I hope ethanol production is responsible and that there is a major push to make alternative fuels have a positive environmental impact.

  2. October 20, 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    @Michel: Thank you for your comments. Ethanol production is a problem in the rain forests because the forests are being cut and burned to grow more sugar cane for ethanol. Corn ethanol production is a problem in this country. The other rain forest problem is growing palm plants and making biodiesel from palm oil. The rainforests are being cut down and then the land is cleared burned to grow more palm plants as well as sugar cane.
    With oil prices falling below $80.00 a barrel, investment in alternative fuels may not be as lucrative when the price of oil was $140.00 a barrel. Also, the U.S. has an embargo tax on ethanol being imported from Brazil and other countries.

  3. Geophys55 March 4, 2009 at 8:11 pm #

    Here’s what I find amusing about the whole Brazil situation:

    Ethanol makes up about 20% of the over-the-road transport sector in Brazil. Ships, trains and planes are pretty much fossil fuel.

    Having said that, Brazil will be filthy rich due to its new energy industry, which is…OFFSHORE OIL! Brazil, through industrious oil exploration has found “Saudi-sized” fields off their shore and are now net exporters.

    We could do that, too.


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