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Destroy The Rainforest, or Capitalism!

Richard Hammond's Jungle Quest is a documentary where he visits the Amazon rainforest and takes photographs. He doesn't really know what he's doing. There's other people there to make things work out OK, he doesn't have to be responsible or competent, he just has to be charismatic and popular. So it's pretty silly.

He says he wants to inspire people to save the rainforest and that something like 20% of it has been destroyed over the last 30 years. (I forget the exact numbers.) I recommend the South Park episode about the rainforest.

What the documentary doesn't say a word about is why the rainforest is being destroyed. What's the upside of destroying the rainforest? What's the downside of preserving it?

People destroy the rainforest on purpose. And it's not because it simply never occurred to them to save it...

People destroy the rainforest because they want land to live on and farm on. They want to be less god damn poor. They want their lives to suck less. They clear areas of forest to make space for humanity and to improve their lives. "Save the rainforest" means making human lives worse.

There is, of course, a way to save the rainforest without screwing anyone over. But it's not what environmentalists have in mind. The win/win solution goes like this: dramatically reduce building regulations in the U.S. (so there can be way more homes), make the U.S. dramatically more capitalist (so there can be way more jobs), dramatically reduce welfare in the U.S. (so immigrants won't be a drain on the current American taxpayers), and then, after doing all of those, let in immigrants who want a better life and are willing to assimilate. A lot of people would rather assimilate to be Americans than work hard to clear the rainforest to make their lives slightly less miserable. Low paying American jobs pay way more (are way more economically productive) than lots of the reasons people clear the rainforest.

There's no need for there to be a shortage of productive jobs in America. That's caused by destructive government actions.

Elliot Temple on July 23, 2017

Messages (3)

Externalized costs in the rainforest

Capitalism does not prevent externalization of costs. Destroying the rain forest seems to be a rather substantial cost given how bad the soil is under the rain forest (very few nutrients). Do you have data on the costs or destroying that forest and its dependent species? Without that data it's hard to judge. It's much easier to calculate the benefits derived from the dirt farmers' efforts because the crops they produce are taken to markets. Do you have estimates of those data?

I suggest that it may be that there are much better (less costly) means of producing the agricultural products that using the poor soil of the rain forest.

Larry Mason at 12:04 PM on August 9, 2017 | #8919 | reply | quote

what is the human benefit of having a **giant** rainforest there?

capitalism does prevent externalization of costs via the mechanism of private property – harmed owners can sue regarding demonstrable costs.

if you want to make things better, work to sort out the property rights.

and of course there are better ways to make money than dealing with a rainforest. non-capitalist policies get in the way of those, unfortunately.

Anonymous at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2017 | #8920 | reply | quote

Anonymous at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2017 | #8921 | reply | quote

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