You'll probably start seeing a lot of news stories about the effect of cocaine production on the environment. The British and Colombian governments have begun a new "Shared Responsibility" campaign trying to raise awareness of how destructive cocaine production is so that cocaine users will feel guilty about using it.
Well, the techniques in use ARE very destructive, but it's not hard to see that this is directly caused by the War on Drugs since the producers are constantly forced to move to new areas and clear them. So I hope that this campaign backfires on the governments and draws attention to the destructiveness of the War on Drugs.
New campaign takes cocaine impact to Europe
Wed May 21, 2008
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) - A picture campaign highlighting the devastation caused in Colombia by the production of cocaine for markets in Europe and America came to London on Wednesday before heading across Europe.
Shared Responsibility, a collection of photographs with captions showing the wholesale destruction of the rainforest for plantations of coca plants, aims to raise the guilt factor among cocaine users.
"Cocaine kills Colombians, it hurts Colombians and massively destroys the environment," Colombia's Vice President Francisco Santos said at the opening of the campaign in Trafalgar Square.
"Every gram of cocaine you inhale destroys four square metres of rainforest," he added.
Not only are three hectares of rainforest cleared for every one hectare of coca plants, but the chemicals used in the cultivation of the plants and the production of the drug also cause major water pollution.
"The real price of cocaine is not just among communities and on the streets here, but in communities and on the streets of Colombia," said British Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker.
The campaign says 2.2 million hectares of forest have been cleared for cocaine production, adding that the wholesale destruction not only puts at risk the lives of thousands of ordinary Colombians but also vast quantities of wildlife.
It says Colombia's forests are home to 13 percent of the world's amphibians, 10 percent of sweet water fish, nine percent of mammals and six percent of reptiles.
Not only that but the forests is a vital lung for the world and its destruction for drugs therefore has global consequences for climate change.
The US Department of Justice's National Drug Threat Assessment said 144,000 hectares of land was under coca cultivation in Colombia in 2005, producing 545 tonnes of pure cocaine -- 70 percent of the region's total.
Eradication campaigns in Colombia, with clearance teams on the ground facing the threat of landmines, had succeeded to a certain extent but had also resulted in farmers moving to non-traditional areas that were harder to find and reach.
There had been some successes with farmers switching to cocoa, coffee, fishing and beekeeping, but much more was needed to be done, said Coaker, praising the cooperation between Britain and Colombia.
"I hope this campaign will make an impact on the way people think and behave and the individual decisions they make and they recognise the problems that can accrue to the innocent people of Colombia," he said.
Expat98 added 2 Minutes and 13 Seconds later...
Colombian drug cartels blamed for the destruction of rainforest
By David Blair, Diplomatic Editor
Last Updated: 2:50AM BST 23/05/2008
Drug cultivation is the biggest cause of deforestation in Colombia with 741,000 acres of rainforest cleared every year, the country's vice-president has said.
Aerial spraying destroys everything, forcing
Colombia's peasant farmers to move to new
land and clear more forest
So far, Colombia's coca producers have destroyed 5.5 million acres of rainforest – an area larger than Wales – with slash and burn cultivation.
About half a ton of pesticides, fertilisers, sulphuric acid and other chemicals are then used to turn every acre of coca into pure cocaine.
Francisco Santos Calderon, the vice-president of Colombia, told The Daily Telegraph that the environmental "devastation" caused by drug producers had gone largely unnoticed. The loss of rainforest was the hidden consequence of buying cocaine in Europe or America.
Mr Santos said: "This destruction of the rainforest for coca production and coca plantation has gone on under the radar of the environmentalists. We hope that this will be a wake-up call. We hope that the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace will start saying 'what is this?' "
Colombia is the world's largest producer of raw coca, with about 700 tons emerging from its forests each year, according to official figures. Mr Santos believes that the figure is actually a lot higher. "I think they are underestimating the amount of cocaine in the market," he said.
The drug cartels buy coca from Colombia's peasant farmers for about £250 per pound. After being refined into cocaine, the same quantity can then be sold for about £15,000 in Europe.
The favoured smuggling route has changed dramatically. Once, most narcotics were sent north to the Caribbean for onward shipment to Europe. Today, Colombia's cocaine is sent to neighbouring Venezuela and then across the Atlantic to West Africa.
A string of tiny countries along the African coast, notably Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Guinea-Conakry, are rapidly becoming narco-states. Incapable of policing their coastlines or airspace, these countries are convenient staging posts for trafficking drugs to Europe. "It's a huge change and it has happened very quickly and I think more changes are to come," said Mr Santos.
He pointed out that West Africa's climate was ideal for growing coca. "I have no doubt that in five years, you're going to see production [in West Africa]," he said. "In countries that have such weak institutions, it's going to be a mess."
But Colombia's controversial, US-funded policy of eradicating coca fields is also inflicting immense environmental damage. Last year, the authorities destroyed about 400,000 acres, mostly with indiscriminate aerial spraying.
Colombia's peasant farmers grow coca alongside normal food crops. Aerial spraying destroys everything, forcing them to move to new land and clear more forest.
Mr Santos, 46, urged Europe to help the farmers by reforming the Common Agricultural Policy.
"If our farmers and our peasants were able to export to the European Union without the tariffs and without the barriers, we would have a farming sector that would be more competitive and a lot of peasants would not go into drug-growing," he said.