Articles by Glenn Hurowitz
Glenn Hurowitz is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. Follow
Well, that whole beating George Bush thing in 2004 didn't work out, so now billionaire financier / Democratic fundraiser / anti-Communist crusader George Soros is back to his first love: making money -- apparently even when it comes at the expense of the planet.
Sabrina Valle of the Washington Post is reporting that Soros is one of the biggest investors in growing sugarcane ethanol in the Brazilian cerrado, "a vast plateau where temperatures range from freezing to steaming hot and bushes and grasslands alternate with forests and the richest variety of flora of all the world's savannas."
That could soon come to an end. In the past four decades, more than half of the Cerrado has been transformed by the encroachment of cattle ranchers and soybean farmers. And now another demand is quickly eating into the landscape: sugarcane, the raw material for Brazilian ethanol.
"Deforestation in the Cerrado is actually happening at a higher rate than it has in the Amazon," said John Buchanan, senior director of business practices for Conservation International in Arlington.
"If the actual deforestation rates continue, all the remaining vegetation in the Cerrado could be lost by the year 2030. That would be a huge loss of biodiversity."
The roots of this transformation lie in the worldwide demand for ethanol, recently boosted by a U.S. Senate bill that would mandate the use of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022, more than six times the capacity of the United States' 115 ethanol refineries. President Bush, who proposed a similar increase in his State of the Union address, visited Brazil and negotiated a deal in March to promote ethanol production in Latin America and the Caribbean.