Time for some home truths about deforestation | Laura Spinney

Time for some home truths about deforestation | Laura Spinney

A powerful French book punctures the myth that countries in the global south are largely responsible for habitat destruction

To prevent future pandemics, we must stop deforestation and end the illegal wildlife trade. Do you agree? Of course you do, because what’s not to like? The buck stops with the evil other. The question is, will doing those things solve the problem? And the answer is, probably not. They will help, but there’s another, potentially bigger problem closer to home: the global north’s use of natural resources, especially its reliance on livestock.

The story that epidemics are punishment for upsetting the natural order of things is not new. But it’s a peculiarly modern, postcolonial twist on it to imagine that the source of that upset is somewhere far away from most of us – to wit, the parts of the world that were forested, until recently, and that conveniently coincide with the poorer bits. And it turns out that this narrative may be interfering with our attempts to protect ourselves from novel diseases, as well as with efforts to tackle climate change and the erosion of biodiversity.

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