Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cutting down protesters and forests in Madagascar

NY Times outlines how the situation in Madagascar has deteriorated:  a shaky government more interested in corrupt personal enrichment than in law enforcement is letting the country's forests be decimated and sent to China.  Meanwhile, my parents tell me that their church, which supports a tree planting-program in Madagascar, has learned that a Malagasy pastor associated with their program was killed when he attended a demonstration in the capital.

I don't have a well-defined opinion about the current government and president.  He unceremoniously deposed the prior president, but the prior president's democratic credentials were shaky at best, and many people joined the protests that drove him out.  So while that's unclear to me, it is clear that the government shouldn't be shooting protesters.  And obviously it should be preserving the last bits of Madagascar's irreplaceable nature instead of taking bribes to destroy it.  I can't forget the incredible lemurs we saw there, and how few Malagasy ever see them.  It would  be tragic to lose them. 

The church members are asking people to contact the State Department and Congress and asking them to pressure the Madagascar government.  I think that's a good idea, and I'll suggest one other:  modify the Kerry-Lieberman bill so that countries facing tariffs for their failure to act on climate will face additional tariffs if they're buying illegal wood and aiding climate-harming deforestation.  Those monies could then be used to help fix the problem 

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