Friday, September 24, 2010

When we use, we don't conserve

On my way to Professor Hardin's Conservation Justice class today, I was reading the National Geographic. This month, there is a story, 'The Pierced Heart,' about illegal logging in Madagascar, especially for the beet-coloured rosewood tree, seen below.

The writer, Robert Draper, speaks eloquently about the growing ecological and biodiversity crisis being caused because of thoughtless logging. There have been waxing and waning international pressures on the Madagascan government for years now, waning when a President says such logging is illegal, and waxing when new Presidents think the government is cash-strapped enough to resume such logging. Yet, Draper rightly states that, "The outside world is in no position to lecture, given its own voracious appetite - sometimes benign, sometimes less so - for Madagascar's wondrous resources." The above tree earned this man $6, and the wood was eventually sold for about $5000 in China.

If there was no demand, there would be no supply. Until we keep thinking that we will find ourselves in what we use and what we consume, we will continue to fell trees that took 500 years to grow in five minutes. As long as we think we need the latest techno-gadget, mining companies will gladly blast through valleys and trees for mine rare earth metals. When we use, we don't conserve.


  1. Have you met Patty Liao? She's one of our fellow engineers and also Dual Majoring in SNRE.

    Her masters project has brought her to Madagascar, and me and her had some great talks about the environment and the people there. You should chat with her sometime.

  2. That sounds great. What did she do there?