I stumbled on a documentary of Chico Mendes while writing this. If you have high speed and an hour or so to spare, I highly recommend watching it. Rubber barons created a monopoly by enslaving people, who were in turn broken by British plantations, who were in turn broken by new technology — synthetic rubber. The surviving workers (Mendes being the son of one of them) adjusted to life in the jungles — after displacing the native Indians, of course. But, it wasn’t until cattle ranchers displaced them that the forests in those areas of the coast were finally completely destroyed.
I have a favorite saying: The future cannot be predicted because the act of predicting it will alter it (in unpredictable ways). So here goes. I predict that the next wave of destruction, maybe the final one, will be biofuels, and it will be the ranchers’ turn to be displaced. The average American consumes 10 pounds of coffee, 70 pounds of beef, and 4000 pounds of gasoline annually.