In today’s Guardian Online, tucked away in the Enivronment pages, was news that is hardly news at all – that the Amazon is continuing to be deforested, currently at an increasing rate.
What wasn’t mentioned was the news reported in Treehugger last Thursday 7th July, which indicates that deforestation is not just the result of traditional clear-felling methods, but also of the use of notorious Vietnam War chemical, Agent Orange.
While the destruction caused by clear felling can’t be ignored, the use of Agent Orange is frankly alarming. For starters, it’s less instantly obvious than the roar of a chainsaw and a bunch of tractors rolling by. It’s also possible to destroy a greater area in a shorter time and considerably less effort. Worst of all though, Agent Orange instantly poisons all vegetation and wildflife in the area, contaminates the groundwater and, will most likely render that region unproductive for years to come (the vandals who sprayed the area obviously weren’t the brightest sparks – they’ll have trouble grazing cattle or planting crops there for quite some time). In addition, the long-term effects on nearby human populations are well known, including increased rates of cancer, birth defects and miscarriage.
It saddens me that the use of Agent Orange doesn’t seem to be showing up in the mainstream media. It would be nice to think that there could be some sort of an international action against the use of such a chemical, with the considerable knowledge that we have if its consequences. Instead, only the bunch of hippies who read Treehugger (and the like) are the only ones who even know how it’s still being used.