People need to be more active in preserving rainforests

A few mornings ago I logged onto the Internet, checked my e-mail and my banking account and braced myself for the thing I dread most about my mornings: logging onto CNN.

While I feel the intense need to be kept in the know about things happening in our world, I would be lying if I said I didn’t fear what the news will bring at the beginning of each day. My fears were relieved, however, by a video I found buried in the Web site. The video is about a man named Johan Eliasch who recently purchased 400,000 acres of the Amazon rainforest.

I must admit, the idea that one man could posses the means to actually purchase his own chunk of rainforest the size of Greater London caught me a little bit off guard. According to an interview with him by the Guardian, a newspaper in England, the land that Eliasch bought previously belonged to a logging company.

Eliasch closed the company down and laid off 1,000 of its Brazilian workers. According to Eliasch, he did all of this simply “to protect the rainforest.” While such practices may not be exactly what Brazil needs in terms of employment, local authorities in Brazil who are friends of Eliasch defended his actions as the cost for saving rainforests of the world.

According to Eliasch in his editorial for the Independent, a newspaper in England, “Don’t let politics prevent us from saving the planet,” protecting the world’s rainforests from deforestation could dramatically reduce carbon emissions. In the article, Eliasch wrote that “the fact that half of all the carbon emissions since the industrial revolution have been created in he last 20 years is one which challenges the pace of change that most (political) policies can accommodate.”

Perhaps the rapid deforestation of our planet calls for people in a position like Eliasch to step in and use their influence to actually produce the change that politicians have been promising to make for years now.

People like the late Paul van Vlissingen, who owned Calor gas, and Kris McDivitt and her husband Doug Tompkins, who is co-founder of the North Face, have followed suit and bought land in various places such as Argentina, Chile and Africa. The efforts of these people ensure that precious land like the Amazon rainforest will not be greedily gobbled up by logging companies that persuade people that their operations are helping the planet rather than destroying it simply because they provide jobs to local indigenous people.

The unfortunate fact is that the large majority of world citizens doesn’t have the clout or will to step in and reverse the damage that each one of us has helped cause the environment.

When local and world governments fail, it is up to us, as citizens of the world, to step up to the plate and put a stop to the evil we have introduced into this world. Although most of us don’t have the means to do what Eliasch has done, we can do our part in helping find a reliable alternative to deforestation.

We are all affected by bad environmental policies, and we need to start pressuring our legislative government to do something about these things. Let’s not sit back idly and watch as the select elite bail us out of every problem we have caused ourselves.

Andrew Young is a sophomore radio-TV-film major from Overland Park, Kan.