Stephen Schwartzman

Stephen Schwartzman is co-director of the International Program, Environmental Defense.

Recent Articles

Deforestation and Global Markets

An Amazonian dilemma: Brazil has become a global producer, and China a global consumer.

Forest clearing on Amazonia's expanding frontiers is not about desperate poor people clearing the forest to eat. It is about land sharks fighting it out over the best parts and forcing the little fish to pick over the remains. In the wake of forest clearing, ranchers, agribusiness, and small farmers become established, more forest is cleared every year -- and the frontier moves on.

Better Governance

Expanding the network of protected areas and better environmental-law enforcement can help to curb deforestation.

A group of scientists at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, the environmental research group IPAM, and the Woods Hole Research Center have built a satellite-data-driven model of future deforestation scenarios for the Amazon, based on how much has already been cleared and the well-documented historical relationship between building and paving roads and forest clearance. Their conservative, business-as-usual estimate: 40 percent of the existing forest cover of the Amazon (the whole basin, not just the Brazilian part) will be gone by 2050. Worse, no one knows if there is a tipping point, beyond which the ecosystem unravels irreversibly—or where it might be if there is one.