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Raiders of the lost bark

Richard Black | 10:55 UK time, Wednesday, 27 October 2010

From the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya:

The second Tuesday of this meeting was the day glamour came to town - in good and ugly guises.

On the good side, I had the chance to sit down with Harrison Ford - an actor whose oeuvre looms large for anyone of my generation, from Witness to Indiana Jones - and talk about the reasons why he's been advocating conservation for almost as long as he's been making movies.

Harrison Ford with the BBC

 

We explored other things that actors can and do campaign on - world poverty, HIV/Aids, and so on - so why conservation? And among organisations to support - why Conservation International, of which he's vice-president, and to which he's been a substantial financial donor?

We talked about whether movies can be used in education on issues like the environment; we also touched on the notable absence from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of the United States.

You can listen to his thoughts below. I refrained from any movie puns in the interview, but I think it's clear he regards biodiversity loss as a clear and present danger - for people, as well as for Earth's other inhabitants - and that he's drawing on a lot more than simple emotion.

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The ugly side was represented in the report from the Environmental Investigation Agency and Global Witness on the flood of hard woods coming out of Madagascar's poorly protected forests.

These are species such as rosewood that instrument-makers cherish.

But as we all know... love something that nature provides too much, and you may just love it to death.

China is the main destination for the wood nowadays.

But go back a few years, and much ended up in the US and Europe.

Indeed, Alexander von Bismarck, the eloquent EIA boss, described the presence of these music industry-oriented exports as having "opened the door" - perhaps "opened the floodgates" would have been more appropriate given the other imagery he used - or "broken the levee", given the context.

The US is cracking down on illegal timber more than just about any other importing country in the world.

The Lacey Act dates from 1900, but was amended in 2008 to make it illegal for anyone to import timber that is illegally obtained according to the laws of its country of origin.

Last year, it led to a raid on Gibson Guitars - one of the world's most famous marques, its products played by a generation of legends from BB King to Nigel out of Spinal Tap... a story of which we have yet to see the denouement.

Back in 1997, in an expo outside the World Summit in New York, I recall encountering guitars proclaiming their sustainable sourcing - I even played one, a Fender I think it was, endorsed by the Rainforest Alliance as environmentally and socially sustainable.

How that guitar must be gently weeping now.

I totted things up. I reckon my house contains 11 musical instruments of varying characters that use wood in their manufacture.

Do I know where the wood came from? Probably in a few cases, I do - but I don't recall the manufacturers or vendors ever expending any effort on telling me.

In the words of Bruce Cockburn (and others): When a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?

Global Witness are making sure that where Madagascar is concerned, we do now. Buyers, as well as sellers, are starting to feel the force.

Comments

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  • 1. At 11:30am on 27 Oct 2010, Wolfiewoods wrote:

    “a clear and present danger” Even people who do not care about the environment for its own sake must get the message loud and clear, Catastrophic Anthropogenic Bio-diversity Loss is one of the greatest threats to mankind.

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  • 2. At 11:52am on 27 Oct 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    Top punnage, top beard.

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  • 3. At 1:22pm on 27 Oct 2010, Roland D wrote:

    Hmm. The "West" being told it must contribute £££ to stave off a problem. A blizzard of unquestioning articles from the BBC. The strange notion that being a celebrity makes one an expert on said problem.

    Haven't we been here before?

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  • 4. At 2:03pm on 27 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    I wonder if we should feel guilty when we buy second-hand items made from rare wood?
    Should we feel less guilt about buying second hand items or should we feel the same level of guilt?
    Should we continue to keep rare wood items or should we destroy them as a matter of principle?
    If I had a black gibson guitar I would want to cherish it even though I couldn't play the thing.
    At what point does owning something made of rare wood constitute a problem and would there be a cut off time period before legislation comes into action?
    Knowing how far protesters can go (remember the attacks on people wearing fur) will the owners of real, rare hardwood come under fire too?

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  • 5. At 2:30pm on 27 Oct 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    This is like everything else, money and corruption. One can not cut down trees, process and ship without governmental corruption and probably at both ends of the trip. There are many laws protecting plants and animals, the enforcement is the issue. I would think that guitar making is only one of the uses. When products are rare, the price goes up, when the price goes up the risks become balanced against the rewards. Most humans live for today and the future is only tomorrow.

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  • 6. At 2:30pm on 27 Oct 2010, Wolfiewoods wrote:

    In answer to sensiblegrannie’s question @#4 I must answer yes. By destroying precious things made from rare hardwoods we will be making such things into a liability, values will plummet and demand for modern works will stop, so come on, empty the museums, lets be rid of the lot.

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  • 7. At 2:47pm on 27 Oct 2010, Neil Bridgland wrote:

    A positive to come out of Gibson case is that they are now working towards the elimination of illegal timber from their supply chain:

    http://soundandfair.org/gibson-guitars-commits-to-fsc

    Shame that it took the threat of criminal prosecution to set the wheels in motion.

    We could use a similar high profile case in Europe where in most cases the music industry continues to feign concern over illegal timber whilst continuing to support unsustainable procurement policies.

    The report mentioned in your article highlights the practises of a German timber company who are themselves under investigation in the US for supplying rosewood to Gibson.

    The same company are also one of the biggest suppliers of African blackwood, a increasingly rare hardwood used to make woodwind instruments.

    They claim that their sources of African blackwood are sustainable, a message that is passed on unquestionably to customers by woodwind instrument manufacturers.

    However, without any independent, third party verification, such as that provided by FSC, such claims are meaningless.

    Some European manufacturers such as Hanson Clarinets are taking their environmental responsibilities seriously, without the threat of legal action, and are adopting sustainable practises:

    http://soundandfair.org/hanson-clarinets-completes-worlds-first-chain-of-custody-for-sustainably-harvested-african-blackwood

    But most others have their heads firmly stuck in the sand when it comes to illegal timber.

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  • 8. At 3:15pm on 27 Oct 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 9. At 3:15pm on 27 Oct 2010, LabMunkey wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 4:29pm on 27 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 11. At 5:56pm on 27 Oct 2010, rossglory wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 12. At 6:41pm on 27 Oct 2010, SusanA1 wrote:

    Have the BBC also covered the tiger summit in Russia in 23 days time. WWF are aiming to double the tiger numbers from 3200 by the year 2022 and have managed to get a petition of over 100,000 people. Their aim is now 150,000. Such an important cause. http://www.wwf.org.uk/how_you_can_help/donate_now/save_the_tiger/

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  • 13. At 10:19pm on 27 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Richard Black.

    "Do I know where the wood came from? Probably in a few cases, I do - but I don't recall the manufacturers or vendors ever expending any effort on telling me."

    and it should be irrelevant. the onus to ensure ethical/sustainable purchase and use of materials should be on the suppliers, consumers ought to be able to have confidence that they're not contributing unwittingly to problems. consumers already have a role to play 'at the other end' of the process -- recycling.

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  • 14. At 00:26am on 28 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 15. At 05:25am on 28 Oct 2010, Bobbie Jamwal wrote:

    It has to be understood, that true conservation of our Planet requires a strong backing by the all governments across borders in imlementation of pro-green policies at the rural levels, where almost 49% of the world population is living in direct contact with nature, which is being depleted of its natural resources a......t an alarming pace. This section of people is fast loosing to urbanisation which has increased from a mere 13% (220 million) in 1900 to over 51% in 2010. By 2050 this Urbane society would be sitting at 6 Billion humans in the cities and towns which translates into 2/3 of the world population of 9 Billion at that point in time. This also means that it will require 1 person to produce food for 3 people. a Tough ask. India is still an agricultural based economy today, with a rural population of over 72%, This will need support with cheaper green technologies and effective management in providing Power, water resources, proper use of land and production of organic fertilizers.
    yes... To save this planet, we need to take some harsh decisions and not as individuals or aliens, but as concerned Earthlings.

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  • 16. At 10:49am on 28 Oct 2010, PAWB46 wrote:

    What do actors understand about anything? Nothing. Why ask their opinions?

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  • 17. At 10:52am on 28 Oct 2010, rossglory wrote:

    #3 Roland D
    "The strange notion that being a celebrity makes one an expert on said problem."

    you have a point.....but it appears the scientific community is saying the same thing, never mind you can ignore them as well.

    yes, you have been here before.

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  • 18. At 10:59am on 28 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    jr4412

    In the end we all have to be ethical and that means that we should all make attempts to choose sustainable resources. Accredited verified labels on goods will obviously make our choosing easier although excessive prices may make some choose a less sustainable options.
    Traceability, Affordability, Sustainability and Knowledge could be the new mantra and it might mean changing the way business and government does things to make it feasible for everyone to participate.

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  • 19. At 11:32am on 28 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    sensiblegrannie #18.

    "Accredited verified labels on goods will obviously make our choosing easier.."

    not disagreeing, my argument is that the suppliers' and the government' role is to ensure that 'unethical' stuff never reaches the shelves in the first place. why should the consumer be asked to 'take responsibility'? if products manufactured from unsustainable resources make it to the shelves alongside others, then it's too late already.

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  • 20. At 11:33am on 28 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    let us play acrostics

    T raceability
    A ffordability
    S ustainability
    K nowledge

    F orestry, Fisheries and Farming, Frameworks
    O ceans, Organisms and Organisation
    R ivers, Resources and Revenue
    C02, Changes, Countries and Control
    E arth, Education and Elimination
    S ky, Scarcity, Society, and Socialisation

    I am sure you will have better ideas than me.

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  • 21. At 12:38pm on 28 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    20. At 11:33am on 28 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    I am sure you will have better ideas than me.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Well yes, I do. But I can't tell you what they are without breaking house rules.

    The destruction of Madagascar's forests is the sole responsiblity of the Madagascan people and government. If they don't have the wherewithal to protect their own trees then they will lose them.

    But of course, they will do nothing as they want the money from the illegal logging and they will lose the trees.

    Their problem, their loss, their responsibility.

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  • 22. At 12:54pm on 28 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Brunnen_G #21.

    "The destruction of Madagascar's forests is the sole responsiblity of the Madagascan people and government."

    yet the resultant cost must be borne by all humans all over the planet.

    another fine example of the futility of allowing 200+ nation states to do 'their' thing.

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  • 23. At 1:44pm on 28 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #17 wrote:

    it appears the scientific community is saying the same thing, never mind you can ignore them as well.

    There's a really good article in today's London Times by David Aaronovitch (a noted non-sceptic on AGW) about the trustworthiness of experts. Alas, it's not available online for free, as far as I know.

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  • 24. At 3:30pm on 28 Oct 2010, Smiffie wrote:

    Whilst I do not share some peoples enthusiasm for a world government, I do feel that when irresponsible people, such as the people of Madagascar, find them selves in position of something precious that they cannot or will not look after, then more responsible nations, possibly working through the UN, should take control of the situation. This applies to many situations, not just rare wood.

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  • 25. At 5:28pm on 28 Oct 2010, Greenpa wrote:

    Mr. Ford- it might be of use to consider parallels between illegal trafficking in natural goods; eg. timber, tiger body parts, etc; and illegal trafficking in humans; prostitution.

    I think the parallels are very strong; and very educational. Both are "intractable" problems; and in both cases, historically we tend to punish the providers; not the consumers. Therein lies the mistake, and the basic reason for failure.

    So long as there are buyers; who are unpunished for what we agree as a society are destructive behaviors, then new providers will inevitably appear.

    I'm not suggesting a new war on the consumers of prostitutes; while sometimes attempted, it's always short lived. For the same reason (wealth and power) punishing the consumers of stolen timber or animal parts would be difficult; but perhaps not so much impossible, in this day and age.

    While the Russian Mafia buyers of snow-leopard skins are immune to embarrassment; the newly rich Chinese are likely not. Being publicly exposed as a corrupt buyer of illegal goods will most certainly cause a serious loss of face, prestige, and power. Which could easily then result in a decrease in demand- the only thing likely to slow actual losses.

    Perhaps a Chinese "Wiki-leaks" type of operation could be encouraged? Or a branch of the Chinese government interested in an approach of this kind?

    History is very clear on the outcome of local regulations- corruption by massive payoffs is inevitable; unstoppable- and eventually highly corrosive for the entire society.

    Emphasis on top-down approaches might be more productive.

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  • 26. At 6:22pm on 28 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    @22. At 12:54pm on 28 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    yet the resultant cost must be borne by all humans all over the planet.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Oh please. This is the sort of sentimental claptrap that undermines practically every evironmental issue.

    If every plant and animal on Madagascar were to drop dead tomorrow (but the human pop were left alive), how exactly would it affect my life? What 'cost' would I have to bear?

    Nothing and none.

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  • 27. At 8:07pm on 28 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    Dear friends,

    • There are only 300 northern right whales left, and 99% of blue whales have been wiped out. These majestic giants are Endangered Species, and their case is being played out across the world, time and again.

    • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission estimates that one third of all animals and plants on the planet, especially those bigger than (eg) a guinea pig or an orchid, are vulnerable to extinction, or are already ‘on the brink’ of extinction. Ahmed Djoghlaf, the UN’s leading figure on biological diversity, said “The magnitude of the damage to ecosystems is much bigger than previously thought, and the rate of extinction is currently running at 1,000 times the natural historical background rate of extinction.”
    • This most recent study by the IUCN found that 17,291 of the 47,677 species assessed are threatened with extinction. They include 21% of all known mammals, 30% of amphibians, 35% of invertebrates and 70% of plants.
    • Of the world’s 5,490 mammals, 79 are classified as ‘extinct in the wild’ by the IUCN Red List. A further 188 are ‘critically endangered’, 449 are ‘endangered’ and 505 are classed as ‘vulnerable’.

    • The natural world is being eradicated by human activity, but there is a plan to save it - The 20/20 Plan - a global agreement to create, fund and enforce protected areas covering 20% of our lands and seas by 2020.

    • Right now, 193 governments are meeting in Japan to address this crisis and to consider this specific proposal.
    • Experts say that politicians are hesitant to adopt such an ambitious goal, but that a global public outcry could tip the balance, making leaders feel the eyes of the world upon them. This petition, the ‘20/20 Petition’ will be delivered directly to the meeting in Japan.

    • Ironically, 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. By now, our governments were supposed to have "achieved a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss." They have failed; consistently out-flanked by industry, where the decision is profit rather than species-protection. Our animals and plants, our oceans and rivers, our soils and forests are collapsing under the immense pressure of human exploitation and human despoliation.

    • But we can turn it around -- we've saved species from extinction before. The causes of biodiversity-decline are many and varied, and stopping these extinctions is going to require a major shift from piecemeal programmes with no funding clarity, to a bold plan with strict enforcement and serious commitments of funding.

    • The 20/20 Plan is our way forward. Participating governments worldwide will be mandated to introduce and operate structured programmes to ensure that 20% of our earth is protected by the 2020 deadline. This will involve massively scaled-up funding.

    • It has to be now. All over the world the picture is looking bleaker -- there are only 3,200 tigers left in the wild, our oceans are running out of fish, and we're losing the diversity of unique food sources to industrial monoculture Nature is resilient, but we have to give it these safe havens from which to bounce-back. That's why this meeting is critical -- it's a watershed moment to accelerate action based on clear commitments to protect nature in all its diversity.

    • If intense public pressure, right now, helps our governments to feel courageous, we can jolt them to commit to the 20/20 plan at this meeting. But it's going to take every one of us to get that message from across the world focussed on the convention in Japan.

    • Please sign this urgent petition http://www.avaaz.org/en/the_end_of_whales/?vl

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  • 28. At 8:16pm on 28 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    "...yet the resultant cost must be borne by all humans all over the planet." (jr4412@22)

    "Oh please. This is the sort of sentimental claptrap that undermines practically every evironmental issue.
    If every plant and animal on Madagascar were to drop dead tomorrow (but the human pop were left alive), how exactly would it affect my life? What 'cost' would I have to bear? Nothing and none." (Brunnen G @26)
    ..................
    Brunnen,
    I rarely respond to you because you are consistently agressively negative.
    How about doing something positive?
    - add your name to the on-line petition via my previous posting.
    It will make you feel better.
    Geoff.

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  • 29. At 8:18pm on 28 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    Alarmist nonsense Geoff, nothing more.

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  • 30. At 8:28pm on 28 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    Dear sensiblegrannie,

    you are so back on form!

    Your postings have a very different 'take' on the world and our issues - well considered and quirkily presented....

    I'll bet you have been a teacher of younger age-groups at some time (?)

    One of the Fans.
    Geoff.

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  • 31. At 9:59pm on 28 Oct 2010, Greenpa wrote:

    Geoff: it may help you to comprehend BrunnenG to know that he is the direct lineal descendant of Charles Dickens' model for Ebenezer Scrooge; the hard headed, heartless, soul-less, self-satisfied business man. "If they had rather die, they had better do it; and decrease the surplus population!" The type still exists; happily foreclosing on humanity.

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  • 32. At 10:01pm on 28 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    All over the world, at whatever date Homo sapiens expanded into new territory, the extinction curve took a sharp upward trend.
    Archaeological evidence (especially) from 12,000 to 10,000 years ago from (especially) the previously isolated large islands such as Madagasgar and New Zealand shows that even 'primitive' man was willing and able to wipe out to extinction many species of giant, frequently flightless birds, and the exotic large land mammals of the time and location.
    The same process as man swept down from the Aleutians through the Americas to Patagonia was arguably the cause of much of the extinction of the endemic mammalian fauna (etc) of the new world - chronological co-incidence & physical evidence.
    Man has always been a destroyer of species, with little or no consideration for future; only now, post-industrial man does it to the whole world biosphere - all at once and totally.

    Now that we are fully aware of the many processes that lead to extinctions we are uniquely competent to arrest the process *if we want to*.
    It is a *giant* cop-out to say that this human mayhem - the ultimate genocide of life on earth - is 'evolution in action'. It is a whole paradigm-shift away from the 'slow' replacement of genes in the replacing of the less fit species with the fitter. The impact of post-industrial man is akin to Bruce Willis's meteor - an extinction-level event (ELE) hurtling through our lifetime.

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  • 33. At 10:49pm on 28 Oct 2010, Greenpa wrote:

    Call me the Ghost Of Earth Past; what the hay:

    "Oh please. This is the sort of sentimental claptrap that undermines practically every evironmental issue."

    Translation: "Bah! Humbug!"

    "If every plant and animal on Madagascar were to drop dead tomorrow (but the human pop were left alive), how exactly would it affect my life? What 'cost' would I have to bear?

    Nothing and none."

    Actually; untrue, and provably so. I'm assuming you are a citizen of the UK? And possibly a taxpayer there?

    Some of your taxes go to support the UK contributions to the war in Afghanistan. The personal impact on you is slight; but it still amounts to very large amounts of joint capital and resources that could instead have been used at home, for any purpose you wish to name. But instead- it's gone; utterly wasted.

    If the ecosystems of Madagascar all collapsed, there would, very certainly, be human and political repercussions that you, as the unfortunate citizen of the UK - would pay for. Money out of your purse; goals you see as desirable unfulfilled. The people of Madagascar, for example, might all have to emigrate, becoming refugees- always pesky, and expensive; and carrying disease, no doubt. The UK contributions to various global charities would certainly increase, despite your cries of humbug.

    The abundant human horror, would, I grant you, have no impact on your life; you're lucky there.

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  • 34. At 11:36pm on 28 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    Greenpa wrote @ 25: ”…..While the Russian Mafia buyers of snow-leopard skins are immune to embarrassment; the newly rich Chinese are likely not. Being publicly exposed as a corrupt buyer of illegal goods will most certainly cause a serious loss of face, prestige, and power. Which could easily then result in a decrease in demand- the only thing likely to slow actual losses.
    Perhaps a Chinese "Wiki-leaks" type of operation could be encouraged? Or a branch of the Chinese government interested in an approach of this kind?
    History is very clear on the outcome of local regulations- corruption by massive payoffs is inevitable; unstoppable- and eventually highly corrosive for the entire society.
    Emphasis on top-down approaches might be more productive.”
    ……………
    • Hi, Greenpa,
    • The top-down approach might work with Sweden, Germany, UK, USA, etc, but trafficking usually sources assets from countries where corruption permeates the whole of society from the bottom right to the very top.
    • Brazil is one of these countries where extreme corruption is currently institutionalized into the government process. There are many countries where ALL transactions involving trans-national trade *of all kinds, legal and illegal* need the wheels to be greased at a number of levels. The main recipients of these pay-offs will be the power-players in the party of government, and the main game in town is covering the money trail.
    • Most third world and ‘developing’ countries have governing structures of this kind, and China *in particular* trades with these countries right across the world as an *ethics-blind* process, placing large tranches of money into the hands of the government power-players in order to command legal items like raw materials and foodstuffs.
    I can make no comment here on the transfer of illegal goods to China.

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  • 35. At 01:24am on 29 Oct 2010, Greenpa wrote:

    Geoff: "China *in particular* trades with these countries right across the world as an *ethics-blind* process"

    well, I know you're right, they do; though I'm not sure about the "in particular" - :-) To some extent; they're just more honest about their sometimes dishonesty. I wouldn't place any bets on the honesty and legality of any big US corporations, that's for sure; and let's not get into the East India Trading Company... :-)

    Some of the Western perception of Chinese corrupt practices is due to the probability of what answer you will get if you ask a Chinese official: "Is there sometimes corruption in this process?" Chances are, they'll say "Yes, it happens, I'm sorry to say." - where in the West we may be more likely to lie about it, saying "no, no, we're all honest here!"

    Many Chinese are quite fiercely honest, even bordering on puritanical; going back to the rigorous communist training days. They loathe corruption and dishonesty, and even the most corrupt politicians and businessmen are greatly injured if their dishonesty is discovered and made public. Possibly more so than in the West, these days.

    (full disclosure: I have good friends in China.) Surprise; bet you'd never have guessed. :-)

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  • 36. At 04:01am on 29 Oct 2010, Robert Lucien wrote:

    #26. At 6:22pm on 28 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    ...

    If every plant and animal on Madagascar were to drop dead tomorrow (but the human pop were left alive), how exactly would it affect my life? What 'cost' would I have to bear?

    Nothing and none.
    --------------
    Conversely if a nerve gas only fatal to humans were sprayed over the whole of Madagascar and killed the entire human population but left the animals and plants intact, how would that be any different? The animals in Madagascar are unique and special, the humans certainly aren't. As an ecologist the solution to save an eco-system threatened by an invading parasite is ?...

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  • 37. At 10:37am on 29 Oct 2010, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    GeoffWard at post 30
    Thank you kind fan. I shall print and place your comment in a frame on the wall with my sun spot pictures and other interesting data.

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  • 38. At 1:26pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Brunnen_G #26.

    "If every plant and animal on Madagascar were to drop dead tomorrow (but the human pop were left alive), how exactly would it affect my life? What 'cost' would I have to bear?"

    the cost to you (us, rather) would be two-fold:

    (1) as Greenpa (#33) points out, we would have to bear the cost of absorbing another wave of destitute migrants.

    (2) since all plant and animal life on the island would have disappeared, we'd not be able to use, for instance, whatever medicines could have been developed based on knowledge gained from these (often unique) organisms.

    I would have thought that you have been following the various debates closely enough to appreciate that diversity is the root of our well-being (and 'wealth').

    btw, I'm inclined to agree with Greenpa that you sound a bit like one of those Dickensian characters, having you as a neighbour must be a real trial.

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  • 39. At 7:04pm on 29 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    33. At 10:49pm on 28 Oct 2010, Greenpa wrote:

    I'm assuming you are a citizen of the UK? And possibly a taxpayer there?

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Wrong and wrong. I'm an ex-pat.

    As for jr4412, well, you may have a point on 1, but on 2 you're only talking about potential medicines, possible cures that may or may not be found in Madagascar. I realise that as an AGW true believer you a have trouble distinguishing between what is possible and what is actual, but trust me, they're not the same thing.

    As for comparing me to some Dickensian villian, utter nonsense. Greenpa just spouted that drivel in order to avoid answering the point that greenies use sentimentality in their arguments all the time, usually to shore up a lack of hard facts.

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  • 40. At 10:18pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    Brunnen_G #39.

    "..but on 2 you're only talking about potential medicines, possible cures that may or may not be found in Madagascar."

    google 'ethnopharmacology' and be surprised, even Elsevier (respected publishing house) has a journal dedicated to this branch of knowledge.

    "..as an AGW true believer.."

    for the umpteenth time, and I'm bored having to repeat over and over, I've no position on AGW.

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  • 41. At 10:24pm on 29 Oct 2010, bowmanthebard wrote:

    GeoffWard #32 wrote:

    All over the world, at whatever date Homo sapiens expanded into new territory, the extinction curve took a sharp upward trend.

    Isn't this the case with absolutely every species, not just Homo sapiens? The new species migrates somewhere new, because the new place promotes that species, to the cost of the indigenous species.

    Isn't it also the case that the trend of evolution has been a generally increasing number of species over time -- in other words, spreading new branches of the tree of life? Does this not happen with migrations of the sort you wring your hands about over Homo sapiens?

    Finally, is it not the case that the fossil record more clearly marks the extinction of old species than the emergence of new species?

    I suggest you remind yourself of some basic arithmetic, and clear some of the old academic cobwebs!

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  • 42. At 11:59pm on 29 Oct 2010, Brunnen_G wrote:

    @40. At 10:18pm on 29 Oct 2010, jr4412 wrote:

    "..as an AGW true believer.."

    for the umpteenth time, and I'm bored having to repeat over and over, I've no position on AGW.

    ------------------------------------------------------

    If only your posts on this site even hinted you did anything but sing from the approved hymnsheet, I might find this statement credible.

    As for drugs that have been developed from rainforest plants, yes, I am well aware that several advances have been made due to TRF discoveries. But I said if Madagascaran plants disappeared tomorrow we wouldn't feel the cost. Mainly because a discovery unmade would not be missed.

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  • 43. At 8:33pm on 30 Oct 2010, dancewatch wrote:

    wolfiewoods wrote: "Catastrophic Anthropogenic Bio-diversity Loss is one of the greatest threats to mankind."

    No wolfiewoods, Mankind is one of the greatest threats to Anthropogenic Bio-diversity

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  • 44. At 9:10pm on 30 Oct 2010, dancewatch wrote:

    its funny how the title is raiders of th elost bark - as if to make light of it...pretty pitiful really..shows kind of the sort of thing we are facing, and the artcicle "the real cost of damaging planet earth" as if when alls said and done, the price of nature is going to fall like a some stockmarket company and thats the real tragedy..the real bottom line. its pretty distressing that these are the kinds of reports the bbc is focussing on. don't people seem to understand that they will not exist anymore, or life will not be worth living if this happens...its not a case of it doesn't affect me...its affecting you right now - i bet you wouldn't have said something so stupid, 10 or 15 years ago..
    this is also one of the more distressing comments i've read here:-

    Smiffie wrote:
    "Whilst I do not share some peoples enthusiasm for a world government, I do feel that when irresponsible people, such as the people of Madagascar, find them selves in position of something precious that they cannot or will not look after, then more responsible nations, possibly working through the UN, should take control of the situation. This applies to many situations, not just rare wood."

    what?! - since when has a world government been a great thing to consider having? -
    here's a situation - small country, madagascar poor country, main natural resource, wood....pressured by market forces and free-trade imposed by capitalist western countires...suffers due to pirates, land barons working with western countries (illegal export) suffers due to environmental disasters causesd by loss of habitat (tree roots to stop landslides etc) ...population on their knees, what can be done, what about our future, where did our life go?.....western countires offer the new dream...capitalsim...look you can work for yourself growing x y and z as long as yuo ship it to us, we'll provide money for soldiers to fend off any trouble....you get money, and you can make as much money as the work you put in...we'll build a factory, look at all this natural resource yu have, its great...think how much money you could make. look at this car you could have - you'll have a guaranteed job...security....the people are so desperate that it looks like the knight in shining armour has just ridden in...yes please!....
    the people that created the problem have thus provided the solution to the problem they've created...its worked really well for hundreds or even thousands of years. It is this combined with the fact that pirates are clearing the land and making deals to ship the resources to western markets that makes it look like the people don't care...in fact in Borneo...western companies will wash their hands of any involvement, until the pirates have cleared the land, then they can turn around and say..look the land was lifeless anyway, we're just replanting it....

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