June 29, 2003


Congratulations to Albania, the latest region to qualify for the Amazon Deforestation Comparison World Cup:

The deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon, the largest stretch of forest in the world, has increased by 40% in the past year, according to preliminary figures released yesterday by the Brazilian government.

Almost 10,000sq miles (24,000sq km) of virgin forest - an area the size of Albania - were lost.

Previously deforested, burned, farmed, threatened or otherwise dicked-with slabs of Amazon have been described as equal to the size of New England, the size of Denmark, the size of France, twice the size of France, the size of Belgium, the size of two Belgiums, half the size of Belgium (“Belgium” is a global standard for Amazon measurement, apparently), eight times the size of the urban sprawl of the São Paulo Metropolitan Region, the size of Maryland, nearly the size of Israel, ten times the size of Costa Rica, four times the size of Portugal, the size of
Britain and France combined, and the size of Italy.

Each year, the Amazon loses an area almost the size of Washington State, land the size of Portugal, an area of rainforest the size of Brazil, a chunk the size of Connecticut, forested acreage the size of Poland, and an area equivalent to the size of Rhode Island.

Who will be the first to write that the Amazon has lost an area of rainforest “equal to the size of the Amazon”?

Posted by Tim Blair at June 29, 2003 04:05 AM

"Hey! What happened to the Amazon! It's -- it's gone!"

"Yeah, we mowed it all down and built suburbs. We were sick of all the Concerned Enviroactivists, squadrons of smelly hippies, and pothead rockstars and their economy-draining entourages who kept coming here. Do you know how much the bill for all the trashed hotel rooms cost the last time Sting and Co. were here? Twenty million cruzeiros might not seem like a lot to you, but it's not chicken feed! And did they ever eat. Why do you think the price of coffee skyrocketed last year? Blame Sting and his horde of munchie-afflicted hangers on; we had to raise money to restock all the stores. So anyway, we decided to put an end to all the nonsense and had the Amazon paved and built over."

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 29, 2003 at 04:17 AM

Very interesting.

Posted by: Ehsan at June 29, 2003 at 04:20 AM

Has anyone said an area the size of Newfoundland has been lost?

Posted by: Damian P. at June 29, 2003 at 04:22 AM

Let's work it out. How many Newfoundlands are there in a SBU (Standard Belgium Unit)?

Posted by: tim at June 29, 2003 at 04:31 AM

The loss equal in size to Brazil - was that all Brazilian Amazon? Let's never again speak the words "Britain and France combined."

Posted by: Bill Jefferson at June 29, 2003 at 04:45 AM

Now it can be told: Nobody ever gave a damn about the metric system, really. The only reason anyone ever mentioned hectares was to clear away our good old acres and square miles, paving the way for the belgium to become the standard unit of areal measure. Someday when you're reading the real-estate ads and you see a "2-microbelgium wooded lot", you'll remember who warned you first.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek at June 29, 2003 at 05:42 AM

1. It's funny they should use Washington state as a unit of measure. Up here, they've been cutting down trees on a commercial basis for about 120, 130 years. (Does a small, local company called Weyerhaeuser ring a bell?) And, as anyone who's ever flown into Seattle will tell you, there's a shitload of trees still left up here. BTW, rather than use a fancy-schmancy five-syllable word like "deforestation", we use a simpler two-syllable word, "logging".

2. If you really, really want to make a point with Americans, don't use Rhode Island as a unit of measure. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, and takes about 30-minutes to drive across. Criminy, it takes longer to drive from one end of Seattle to another than it does to cross R.I. To non-American readers, using Rhode Island as a unit of measure would be like using Luxemburg. (R.I. = 1,545 sq, miles, Lux = 1,000 sq. m.)

3. You listed 19 different reports decrying the "deforestation" of the Amazon. Knowing how thick environmental reports can be, and knowing that the environmental group that produced the report will send multiple copies of that report to every news organization, NGO, and government environmental agency in the book, the question becomes: How many trees died to produce those 19 reports?

Posted by: David Crawford at June 29, 2003 at 06:10 AM

Who will be the first to write that the Amazon has lost an area of rainforest “equal to the size of the Amazon”?

I think that qualifies! Congrats, Tim!

Having flown literally hundreds of hours over the upper Amazon basin, I can easily state that in all that time, I never, ever, saw anything but an endless expanse of trees. Seems they have a number of Abanias yet to go...

Posted by: Wind Rider at June 29, 2003 at 06:19 AM

Maybe, Wind Rider, they've only deforested an area the size of Andorra. Or a couple of Andorras.

Posted by: ron at June 29, 2003 at 09:24 AM

"otherwise dicked-with" gets my nomination for The Best Combination Of Words In The History of The English Language, ever. Well done.

Posted by: dc at June 29, 2003 at 11:49 AM

Well, for us New Englanders, a "Rhode Island" (or "Rhody" as it were) is a fine unit of measurement; it suits our small-state frames of mind well. What's really funny is that on top of all the stupid forest loss calculations is that the article comparing the forest loss to Connecticut's land area got the numbers totally wrong. We've only got 4,845 sq. miles of land, not 5,700 (unless, of course, we're adding another Rhody to the figures).

Posted by: Flynn at June 29, 2003 at 12:30 PM

An Australian and a Rhode Islander are talking:

Aussie: "I live on a station in the Outback where I can drive all day and not see the end of my property!"

Rhode Islander: "I had a car like that once."

Posted by: JDB at June 29, 2003 at 01:10 PM

This from The Telegraph:


As the climate has warmed, the Earth has become more lush and rich with vegetation, notably in the Amazon rainforests, according to a study jointly funded by the US space agency Nasa and the US Department of Energy.
The research, published today in the journal Science, describes how global warming has allowed plants to flourish where climatic conditions previously limited growth.
In general, where temperatures restricted plant growth, it became warmer; where sunlight was needed, clouds dissipated; and where it was too dry, it rained more.

Posted by: slatts at June 29, 2003 at 02:04 PM

AHahaha great article. The thing that bothers me is that i didn't think of it before, "Greenhouse" effect would logically imply more plant growth wouldn't it

Posted by: Slatts at June 29, 2003 at 02:25 PM

Yes, as a matter of fact, it does.

Nature has a way of balancing out, which the deluded "We're saving the PLANET!" crowd tend to conveniently forget.

I will also take this moment to reiterate that the "Greenhouse Effect" as being the cause of global warming is utter gobshite.

Posted by: Korgmeister at June 29, 2003 at 04:05 PM

Maybe next they'll be using asteroids as a unit of measure of Amazon Jungle loss. "The rain forest lost .25 Ceres' last year."

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at June 29, 2003 at 04:47 PM

It goes all ways, mi amigo. Laura has been correcting various people who read an article in "Range Magazine" about the widely respected, libertarian environmental organization she works for. The article quoted an April Fool's web site post from a few years ago, saying that Laura's employers owned "six sevenths of the Amazon rain forest" ... and therefore was a tremendous threat to ... er, something. I love that "six sevenths" part.

Posted by: Ken Layne at June 29, 2003 at 06:30 PM

Is Belgium squared equal to one-quarter or one pint of France?

Posted by: Perfectsense at June 29, 2003 at 07:18 PM

If you want the correct figure, a whopping 14% of the Amazon has been cut down in all of human history (ie 14% total since several thousand years ago).
Wow. Every so much.

Posted by: Tim A at June 29, 2003 at 09:17 PM

The best part is that the increase in deforestation is due to farmers planting more soybeans.

As Silflay Hraka helpful pointed out, this means VEGANS are destroying the rain forest.

Damn dirty hippies!

Posted by: Rita at June 29, 2003 at 09:32 PM

Silent Running points out that the reason their soy products are so popular is that a lot of the Euroweenies won't by US soy because of their fear of GM foods.

Posted by: Kathy K at June 29, 2003 at 10:35 PM

So if I read this correctly, that means that Brazil is the same size as Belgium, which in turn is twice its own size in some Euclidean paradox I can't even comprehend. Or does that mean that Belgium and by extension, each of the places Tim lists, has a size of zero, and therefore doesn't actually exist? Which then leads us to the conclusion that Amazon deforestation is either completely impossible (in the event that Belgium has a size greater than 0), or happens at a rate of 0 acres per year (if Belgium doesn't exist). Well frankly I don't see what the hippies are complaining about then.

But that's liberal logic for you: "If Belgium exists Amazon deforestation doesn't happen, but we'll complain about it anyway as though it did". Unless of course they admit they're just totally making up these numbers, and that's simply not possible, is it?

Posted by: W. at June 30, 2003 at 05:03 AM

It would make more sense using "Atlantis". For example, "Every year the Amazon loses an area the size of Atlantis." One, it is an example of land area that has been actually lost. Belgium, Rhode Island and Albania are still there, therefore not good examples. It's an apples and oranges type thing. Second, since no one really knows how big Atlantis was, if it ever was was, then it is usefull in being a specifically vauge amount for propaganda purposes.

Posted by: Charles at June 30, 2003 at 08:43 AM

We've tried time and time again to lose Rhode Island. They keep bringing it back to us.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek at June 30, 2003 at 10:24 AM

So, Albania+France+Belgium+Denmark+Washington State+England+Rhode Island+a-heck-of-third-world-countries-that-I've-never-heard-of-anyway+a-ton-of-other-countries-that-I-couldn't-be-bothered-mentioning-here = Total amount of Amazon rainforest lost here = T, or 'Totalcrockofshit' (Standard unit of measure for Rainforest lost)
Several comments come to mind:
- Is it just me, or do you think the environmentalists have faked these 'figures' a bit?
- How much area does the Amazon recover each year?
- Have we hit onto a new area of mathematical study here?
- If the Amazon Deforestation Comparison World Cup wasn't a competitive sport before, it should be!
Over to you.

Posted by: TimT at June 30, 2003 at 11:31 AM

This post is earning you a link on my list of favorite blogs. Hilarious!

Posted by: Sophorist at June 30, 2003 at 02:46 PM

Right, so what does that work out to in Michael Moores?

Posted by: grumpy at June 30, 2003 at 05:00 PM

He's a three-quarter Belgium. At least.

Posted by: tim at July 1, 2003 at 01:45 AM