Roger Stone

Roger D. Stone, guest editor for this special report, is director and president of the Sustainable Development Institute. He was formerly a correspondent and news bureau chief for Time magazine with three years' service in Brazil. He has also been a vice president of the Chase Manhattan Bank and of the World Wildlife Fund, and president of the Center for Inter-American Relations. He is the author of five published books including Dreams of Amazonia (Viking/Penguin, 1985).

Recent Articles

Restoring the Battered Commons

The degradation of coasts and oceans continues, but faint hopes for improvement are stirring.

"Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest," writes Garrett Hardin in his famous 1968 essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons." As a principal example, he continues, "maritime nations still respond automatically to the shibboleth of the 'freedom of the seas.' Professing to believe in the 'inexhaustible resources of the oceans,' they bring species after species of fish and whales closer to extinction." This special report explores the many ways in which, after 40 years, there has been ample reconfirmation of Hardin's gloomy paradigm. Stewardship remains in short supply. Grimmest of many fishery assessments is the recent forecast that 100 percent of the world's fisheries will be "collapsed" to beneath commercial viability by 2048. Major changes in the temperature and chemistry of our waters caused by greenhouse emissions and climate change are having profound consequences. Ultra-sensitive coral reefs are fast vanishing. Coasts and estuaries are...

Water Wisdom

Recently I visited water expert Peter Gleick at the Oakland, California, headquarters of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, where he is president and co-founder. A MacArthur Fellowship award winner for his work on water issues, Dr. Gleick has been a practitioner in the field for some 20 years. His institute's work can be found at www.pacinst.org and www.worldwater.org . Some highlights of our conversation: RS: In your book Water in Crisis, published in 1993, you said that water was going to be a major challenge for the world for the coming century. Well, here we are well into that coming century. Are things now better or worse than you thought they would be? PG: I do think there is a water crisis. There are still more than a billion people who don't have access to safe drinking water, and 2 and a half billion people, or so, without access to adequate sanitation. Two million people a year die of water-related diseases that are preventable,...

The Search for Solutions

From indigenous people to carbon traders, concerned groups have stepped up the fight to save the Amazon.

Brazil has a prodigious ability to spend billions of dollars on Amazonian projects of little benefit to Amazonian people, flora, and fauna. In 1997 the federal government launched SIVAM (System for the Vigilance of the Amazon), a $1.4 billion program to deploy a fleet of 33 airplanes, specially equipped with sensitive monitoring gear, along the nation's northern frontier. The principal purpose of this shield is to enhance national security by offering protection in an area almost entirely bereft of roads or people of any sort, let alone forked-tongued foreign devils. Growing numbers of huge hydroelectric plants supply heavily subsidized power to aluminum smelters along Amazonia's rivers and to large cities in Brazil's southern region. Meanwhile, locals who need far less energy than is being supplied must cope with the environmental consequences of damming and flooding the once-pure rivers. Decomposing forests flooded to create the dams, some of which generate scant power in return for...

Tomorrow's Amazonia

As farming, ranching, and logging shrink the globe's great rainforest, the planet heats up. A Prospect special report on the assaults on, and the efforts to protect, the Amazon.

There's a brash, risky new Amazonia out there. Pioneer entrepreneurs are making fortunes from activities long considered not feasible in this vast and challenging place, gouging ever deeper into the rainforest in pursuit of wealth. The deeper they slash into the forest and burn it, the more greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere. The destruction of the Amazonian forest has become a leading cause of global warming, with profound climate implications and dangers within the region and far beyond it. Why all this matters so much, and what there is to be done about it, is the subject of this report. Amazonian soy growers, pushing aggressively into uncultivated lands, ship their very profitable product to customers as far away as China via a $100 million waterway that runs from growing areas in Brazil's Mato Grosso state to a grain port at Itacoatiara on the Amazon. Soy, now Brazil's top export, is "the most important protein in the world," says Brazilian "soybean king" and Mato...