Future fossil fuel extraction threatens Earth’s richest areas for biodiversity: northern South America and the western Pacific Ocean, say researchers.
In a new study, environmental scientists reveal that fossil fuel extraction can have a double impact on local and regional animals and plants.
“This double whammy includes the obvious, direct impacts and the more subtle—but often more damaging—indirect impacts,” says Professor Hugh Possingham and Nathalie Butt of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and the University of Queensland.The researchers identify northern South America and the western Pacific Ocean as the areas of the world where the “double whammy” may have the biggest impact, as both regions have high biodiversity and large fossil fuel reserves.
There were several factors – both domestic and geopolitical – that moved Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff to blast American spying during her address to the United Nations General Assembly last week. But Washington is missing the most important message: Brazil, South America’s new economic titan, is assuming a role as regional leader.
Brazil, in effect, has replaced the U.S. as the most influential player on the South American continent and its reach can only be expected to increase. By missing the speech’s larger implication, the White House and Congress are making a miscalculation that undermines U.S. interests in Latin America and the world.
Consequently, Washington can choose to partner up with Brazil and this newly empowered region as a whole or the U.S. can stick to its old-fashioned and counterproductive policies of paternalism and exploitation, which will only increase its isolation.Brazil’s muscle-flexing is the result of an evolution which began over a decade ago as the resource-rich nation began to experience rapid economic development. The entire region now looks to Brazil, not the U.S., as a model for progress – and that includes Washington’s allies such as Colombia, Peru and Chile. This new paradigm is being cemented geopolitically and economically.
As the escape of radiation at Fukushima seems virtually unstoppable, there are still steps that governments all over the world should take to prevent worst case consequences. One of them would be canceling the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Scientific estimates predict that the radioactive plume travelling east across the Pacific will likely hit the shores of Oregon, Washington State and Canada early next year. California will probably be impacted later that year. Because the ongoing flow of water from the reactor site will be virtually impossible to stop, a radioactive plume will continue to migrate across the Pacific affecting Hawaii, North America, South America and eventually Australia for many decades.