Everything Goes Worse With Coke
As if population pressures and the international demand for wood weren’t exacting enough of a toll on tropical ecosystems, here’s another problem: cocaine. In the last 30 years, some 5.7 million acres of Peruvian rainforest have been razed to make way for coca crops, and more than 14,800 tons of toxic chemicals used in the cocaine manufacturing process are dumped into the Amazon jungle every year. Coca farmers frequently rely on heavy applications of pesticides to ward off weeds, and processors use still more chemicals, such as sulfuric acid and kerosene, to create raw cocaine paste. The results range from poisoned water and species extinctions to erosion and landslides, and the long-term implications could include the desertification of now-lush tropical valleys in the region.