Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Credit cruch and good news

While the worldwide credit crunch could undoubtedly have a serious impact on charities like the World Land Trust, there could be a silver lining. Ever since the beginning of 2008 there have apparently been declines in the value of real estate; and this means that the cash the WLT raises can potentially go a lot further. There is no better time than the present for the WLT to work with its ever increasing network of partners to spread its network of nature reserves. If it's all added up, between the WLT, WLT US and all our partners, there are probably somewhere in excess of five million acres under protection, that might otherwise have been lost. But even this huge number is a drop in the ocean compared with what is needed. However, in the 20 years since the WLT first started to help buy land we have seen dozens of other groups start up, and seen governments take the issue more seriously. In many ways this is the really important benefit of saving land with the WLT: the fact that it sets a really good example. Our successes encourage others. It is, as one of Council Members, Simon Barnes, recently described, the leverage effect. Punching above our weight.

That is not to let governments off the hook for ignoring the real problem that is driving deforestation, carbon excess etc. Human population growth. And greed. Last night I watched a video of a BBC TV production of Anthony Trollope's The way we Live Now. So pertinent and up to date. And that rapacious greed, that is destroying the planet, also leads governments to allow expansion of airports such as Stanstead, not because Britain needs extra capacity, but simply to stop other European countries getting the traffic. Greed. Pure unadulterated greed, is unfortunately what seems to be the great motivator of the 21st century. Most people in the developed world have material wealth several orders of magnitude greater than the poorer parts of the world. But still we want more. And with our population still growing at an alarming rate, only a major pandemic of disease (or similar catastrophe) can reverse this, unless governments take the issue seriously -- really seriously and not just lip service. But there is absolutely no sign of it. And even the world's biggest conservation conference (IUCN in Barcelona 2008) did not exactly put it at the top of its agenda.

1 comment:

  1. "Falling grain prices early in the year coincided with a sharp slowing in deforestation. As food and fuel prices peaked through late 2007 and early 2008, it appeared that Amazon deforestation would climb to levels not seen since 2005 — more than 15,000 square kilometers were expected to be lost. The sudden downturn changed all that. When the final numbers came in for 2008, they showed that deforestation only increased a modest 3.8% to 11,968 square kilometers."

    From Mongabay's What does slowing economy mean for rainforest conservation?