Monday, June 22, 2009
When I was kid in the 1970s, I thought that if I really wanted to get out of going to school, I could head for the Brazilian Amazon, which on my atlas seemed like an endless expanse of impenetrable rainforest. Later, when I started to read about political theories, I was very curious about socialism, which seemed attractive to my teenaged mind (as it should to all at this age, said Clemenceau). Today, neither the Amazon nor socialism is what it once was. But both are back in the news.
Earlier this month, the Brazilian legislature passed a new law that would regularize some claims to private property in much of the Amazon region, as long as they were established before 2005. The claims would be limited to 1500 hectares in size. But it would not allow future claims – in large part to try to protect the region from further deforestation. The remainder would be made in effect public land. The law obviously is compromise between the claims of land-starved Brazilians for more land on which to farm and graze, and environmentalists, who wish to preserve as much of the carbon-sink Amazon as possible. While environmentalists welcome stronger restraints on settling and logging, they criticize the law for not including proposed tough restraint on resales, among other things.
All in all, the compromise seems to owe a little to private enterprise, a little to socialism, and a little to environmental protection. This is the sort of compromise that seems to be universal these days …
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