THE BLOG
04/20/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What's Up With the Rainforest: City Exodus Adds to Fears for Haiti Crops

We are in an age where issues have an increased complexity and are global in scope. Citizens all over the world have an increased responsibility over issues that by there very nature connect all of us together. Isolationism and unilateral policies on issues of environmental conservation and protections can no longer be a policy stance. Deforestation and climate change are issues of global importance, that will require collective ambition and collective action. We were delighted to see this point of view come across the Rainforest Newsladder this week. You posted some important stories on the impacts of these issues on the individual level - from the devastation in Haiti to consumer choices in Europe, our top stories this week highlight how choices affect our future. Along with our partner Rainforest Alliance, we invite you to become a part of the conversation. The Rainforest Newsladder is a collection of stories from all over the world that are posted by individuals like you, who want to make sure these important issues are getting attention. We use the this weekly post to highlight some of the best user posts from throughout the week.

Our first story brings us to the devastation in Haiti, as a country tries to rebuild. Haiti was a fragile nation with a fragile economy and infrastructure before the earthquake. Those problems have increased exponentially as people are beginning an exodus from Port-au-Prince to the rural areas in search of food, shelter, and opportunity. Will they find anything when they get there? According to a recent article in the Financial Times, 97% of Haiti's rainforest have been destroyed due to decades of slash and burn agriculture policies. This has created a serious depletion in soil nutrients, which has in turn reduced the amount of arable land. The complexity of the problem was compounded when the Agricultural Ministry was destroyed by the earthquake and with it valuable information on the upcoming planting season that is only a month away. These are issues that do not have a simple answer, so we encourage you to continue to post stories to the Rainforest Newsladder and keep Haiti's redevelopment and land-use practices in the news cycle.

Next we move to the UK, where a BBC commentary by Andrew Mitchell is striking a cord with how consumption drives rainforest destruction. His piece almost seems redundant if you have been following this issue. Simply put, consumer choices in wealthier and emerging economies are driving land-use policies in countries where rainforest destruction is a profitable business. The story sites destruction of rainforests in Brazil for cattle grazing and destruction of rainforests in Indonesia for palm oil production. This seems like a story that continues to be told, but for good reason. If systems will not change, Mitchell is urging consumers to make the change. We back this idea and for it to work we need to be more conscious consumers. This means not buying products that are taking advantage of the current system of rainforest destruction. You have choices as the article points out. Nike has committed itself to not purchasing leather for its sneakers that come from cattle grazing on cleared rainforest land. Brazil's major supermarkets - Pao de Acucar, Wal-mart, and Carrefour - all announced they would no longer accept beef from ranches involved in deforestation. A helpful tool is also to look for the Rainforest Alliance seal on products. The seal is proof that land-use practices in the production of that product are sustainable.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been under heavy fire since the Copenhagen Summit concluded. The Rainforest Newsladder was flush this week with stories relating to the IPCC's challenges in 2010. Matthew McDermott over at Treehugger, put together a great list of facts and fallout. The article looks into the facts about the Himalayan Glacier melt controversy (no they will not be gone by 2035), and a host of other problems that have damaged some of the credibility of the 2007 Nobel Prize winning group. McDermott's conclusion (and I agree), there were some mistakes made by the IPCC in citing facts and using non-peer reviewed data, but the science behind the report is unquestionable. Climate change is happening and problems in the IPCC's handling of these mistake should not discount that fact. Climate deniers are trying to gain the upper-hand in this debate and they are using these IPCC shortcomings as their only fuel, spending more time discounting citations than science.

Don't wait for this weekly post to hear what's up with the Rainforest Newsladder. Visit us today and post your favorite stories from around the Internet. You can also continue this conversation on our Facebook page. Along with our partners Rainforest Alliance, we look forward to talking with you.