Down by the river

The Amazon is one of the world’s centres for hype. It is perfectly placed, the interior a vast (rather humid) jungle. There are piranhas in the water, and uncontacted tribesmen with blowguns and poison darts. I have noticed all the pictures from the remote forests are taken from aircraft and passing satellites. You can say anything about the Amazon, and who will contradict you? This makes it an environmentalist’s paradise.

By the latest hype, the Amazon is burning. Not the river, for by tradition only rivers in Cleveland catch fire, but the forest, containing X percent of the world’s trees, undiscovered endangered species and so forth.

It is not, of course. The small proportion of the Amazon that has been cleared for farming (did you know that farms produce food?) is where the fires are. And only a small proportion of those are in flames. This happens every year, and has happened since time out of the modern mind. It is an agricultural practice, that we may disapprove, but there you go: environmentalists disapprove of everything. We could have had this year’s hype in any year of the last many.

Now, hype seldom operates alone. It is for a purpose, after all. Malice and greed are sure to come with it. By now, a substantial part of the general population in places like Canada and the Natted States have begun to twig to this. Scare stories are the eco professionals’ principal source of money and power. The polar caps are melting, the seas are rising, there’s an invisible raft of empty plastic water bottles (and drinking straws) ten times the size of Texas. The snails in Banff are running for their lives. If any of this were really happening, there is not a thing we could do about it, beyond banning things. But around the world, hundreds of billions are raised through taxes on the basis of these various “just so” stories.

There may be something to them, however. CO2 levels are in fact increasing, in consequence of which planetary green is spreading, and forest cover is expanding splendidly. Perhaps that will provide the scare for the next generation: Killer trees!

Some workmen are just cutting a big one down across the street from me. It’s a start.

Judging from Hollywood, and the imaginative works of every human culture, people do like to be (harmlessly) scared. There will always be a market for apocalyptic narratives, as well as the utopian ones, and I should think with global village meejah, hype is here to stay. Some further reflections on that, here.