TED Conversations

Mario Tinoco

estagiario, TIM BRASIL

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How should we preserve global relevant resources?

That we need to take of our environment is no big news. The planet is changing, and we are going to suffer the consequences. Although this is a rather homogeneous view, the valuation of different problems and global commons is rather heterogeneous. And this is where i want to point this discussion to. Whether is the internationalization of global commons a pure, erga omnes, humanistic view or simply a rhetoric mechanism in defense of interests.

To shed some light in this debate i would like to present a text by Cristovam Buarque, a genius on political and humanistic matters of my country. I don't want this to be a debate over environment, but on all global commons we perceive today.

http://1drop.wordpress.com/2008/05/07/internationalization-of-the-world-cristovam-buarque/

So, how should we preserve global relevant resources?

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  • Jul 1 2011: A lot of what is being said makes sense. Informative, but the means to the end will always be up for critique.
    People have been driven by greed but greed hasnt always been seen as a negative quality, infact its driven humanity to achieve more since as long as one can remember. But has the greed reached its peak point. Probably. But thats not for us to decide.
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      Jul 1 2011: I totally agree with you, but i think that people will still be selfish, but now they can't compete with the environment. Nobody wants to see the end of the planet, and that's a very heavy weight on the wheels of change.
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    Jun 22 2011: How do words like "property" and "sovereignty" get their meaning? Is it merely the history of how we use those words, or is there a valuational aspect to meaning, too. Alternatively, shall we let them be defined by power?

    It seems the questions of how we are going to use and protect or not protect resources are going to be answered by by putting various spins on the definitions of these and similar words that command huge waves of emotion.

    The question of how things should be done are usually answered from the perspective of those who the decision makers think really matter. They simply ask what will really serve the people who really matter?

    Who really matters?

    I think that our different answers to that question (many of which are semi-secret answers) is what really keeps people from working together. If we really agreed on the answer to this questiom, it would not be that hard to figure out what we should do. The remaining quesions would be scientific and technological. A lot of the spin is going on just to hide the fact that most of us are not really included in the group of people that really matters to the people spinning the spin.

    The question of how internationalization ought to proceed is always answered from the perspective of the answer one chooses to give to the question, "Who really matters?"
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      Jun 23 2011: Friend, what i think it's happening (and we can see it) is that environmental problem is becoming so alarming that the answer of Who really matters is about to be popping out in consonance by every decision maker: "us".

      At least i think this way cause the Japanese problem made almost everyone i know to change their views about environment. What do you think?
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        Jun 23 2011: Generally, things are not good. We have a lot to do.

        On the poll that Lindsay has invited us to participate in, I tried to suggest some formulations which would define "us" as broadly as possible. They are not among the most widely approved suggestions. I suggested we should vote with benevolence even toward those who are not included in the electorate. It was not one of the very popular proposals. Given the political constituancy of TED, I would have expected more support.

        FOX news is very popular here. They constantly argue for a narrow definition of "us." They do not care very much for Brazilians or any one else lacking US citizenship. They even narrow which US citizens they include in "us" so far as they can without goind so narrow as to lose elections. Even that limitation does not require them to make "us" very wide since many are willing to vote with them even when they are not included.

        Our contry is divided into Red (conservative) and Blue states (liberal) The Red states are generally a combination of those who are still burdened by the values that made slavery possible and by states that are so rural that they never have to consider how to live with 7 billion other people.. The politicians from those states are still arguing that global warming is a hoax and that we will never run out of oil.

        In that context, when you see that the values that supported slavery remain dominant after almost 150 years since slavery was nominally ended in the US, one has to wonder how we can expand the definition of "us" enough to make non-exploitive internationalism possible.

        A large percentage of the reds are evangelical fundamentalists. They insist the Bible is without error. I suggest that we focus upon Jesus words to pry open the definition of "us". Jesus said the Golden Rule is the whole of the prophets and the law (the first two books of the Bible). That seems to be the wedge. Maybe that can help expand the definition of "us" in the largest world religion.
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          Jun 24 2011: That's quite a nice "new" (for me, it's hard to get an account from far) vision of U. States.

          Religion is always so complicated, almost everywhere. My country's constitution says we have no official religion and the first phrase of the same constitution is:

          we promulgate, under protection of GOD, the following constitution.

          Brazil is the largest catholic country in the world, but recently there is a huge movement towards evangelism, that has major influence on politics.

          We have juridically accepted gay marriage, but the evangelics "prohibited" the distribution of educational material about homophobia on schools, because it's against their faith. Our president accepted this. We aren't a secular State, definitely.

          The great problem of this here in Brazil, and I imagine that this is an issue on States too, is this people elects candidates ALWAYS. Any candidate that has evangelic support (except for presidential elections) wins. And this makes all candidates constrained about what they say.

          About international exploitation i agree with you, but almost every country does this. Brazil does some exploitations too, here at South America. This has some theoretical explications, but i rather don't start this here, cause it's extensive and can make this conversation boring.
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          Jun 24 2011: in the garden(can I call you something else, Al, Sue, Jim??)

          ..I agree with the bottom line of your analysis..that there is no apparent global consciousness..we have no notion of ourselves as global citizens beyond being able to connect instantly with anyone anywhere in the world..I see ithere at TED throughout all conversations..a sort of disconnect in general from the idea of being a citizen even of one's own country.

          Conversations like this give us a chance to think as global citizens..to work through what that means by working through some of the dimensions of a global issue. This is a good one.

          What happens when one country possesses a disproportionate wors share of a natural resource..like oil, gold, copper, or in the case of the amazon..when one country is literally th elung sof the world?.
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        Jun 24 2011: Hi Lindsay,

        Indigo was the name of a character in a book I read to my children. The picture I have chosen for myself is a favorite flower from my garden: Indigo Sage. So I like Indigo. It is a favorite color and is a symbol for grace which is something I aspire to. It would be a name I might chose for myself if my parents hadn't given me a name.

        But if that still feels strained, call me Phil which is short for a word I made up to name my life's project: Philempathy.
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          Jun 24 2011: This is a very creative "avatar" for internet discussions, i think i like that.
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          Jun 24 2011: Indigo it shall be..thnak you ( I lik "Phil" Philempathy too)
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      Jun 23 2011: Hi In The Garden,

      Nice to see you here

      .So, forgetting who has power to make decisions whose might will govern, how do we sort out the fact that amazon is about 1/2 (???) of the entire country of Brazil and it's their land agianst global interest in its natural resources and its.unique place on earth as "the lungs of the earth

      "who matters and what matters in this?

      This is all hypothetical by the way, as far as I know, unless Mario brings something or we fid something , there is no actual plan afoot to "internationalize" the Amazom. But it's a great way to get at the inherent issues of what remains under sovreignty and what set of global concerns supercede sovreignty

      .Any thoughts?
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        Jun 23 2011: Lindsay, there isn't any thought of setting foot on Amazon by no one, it's just discursive.

        As they (superpowers) can't just invade Brazil and take Amazonia (which has many riches btw) they create discourses to continually erode brazilian's sovereignty over amazonia. That's the use of productive power (or soft power, as commonly known).

        People get used to these terms and as sovereignty is a theoretical concept, it can be conceptually eroded with discourse. With this and with the increasing globalization fluxes the sovereignty of Brazil over Amazonia slowly diminishes, and this creates internal problems of legitimacy and with indigenous, landowners, farmers and other actors.

        About the things that supercede sovereignty i think one point of start is the R2P coalition of UN. It has some very interesting values and it actually works and justify interventions: http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/

        The motives that permits the use of R2P are still narrow (but not insignificant) like genocides, ethnic cleanse and other crimes, and it is a start.

        The idea behind this is that the States have a duty to secure human rights within it's sovereignty. Case they don't do it, the R2P and international community is responsible for doing so.
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          Jun 23 2011: Mario,

          Thank you for the link to resposibilitytoprotect.org

          Looks like a good solid organization wrestling every day with what conditions transcend the rights of soverignty.

          I will spend more time there later.

          I am glad you have clarified for all of us thatthere is no imminent plan or threat to "take over" the Amazon.

          I agree, it is still a very useful and important discussion to consider because there rae some emerging trends that point to "inetrnationalization" that we should viist and consider together.
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        Jun 24 2011: Hi Lindsay,

        The question of how to split up who governs particular issues as between international, national, and local governments ought to be determined by the same priniciples that are appropriate for how one decides whether local or national governments should govern an issue. Generally, an issue should be governed by the most local government that covers all of the persons whose interests are significantly affected.

        As modern technology makes the world smaller and smaller so that there are more and more interacations between people on opposite sides of the world, more and more issues would properly be the subject of international government. We saw the same thing happen in the US. Intiially, most issues were local except for trade between the states and national defense. However, as transporation and communications technologies brought people from different states into greater and greater contact, national control over commerce became increasingly more necessary.

        Now, of course, we are stuck with a backlash over the last 30 years whereby those who want no regulation at all have argued for local regulation beause they know local regulation of matters with national significance is least effective.

        If you want the destruction of the environment to be regulated, the only effective way is thorugh international regulation, not by a federation of nations, because that just gives rights to control the environment to powerful nations rather than to the persons who will be harmed. It is just another way of avoiding environmental regulation for the benefit of humanity in general.
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          Jun 24 2011: Hello, In The Garden

          I agree that the worlds oceans, and the world's atmosphere require global management, hopefully through international agreements..as a partnership of nations. We all always point to the UN as the logical place to house emerging issues of inter-sovreignty conflct but I am not convinced that is the place without a restructuring to remove US domination

          .I am not convinced right now that the U.N. really thinks globally in terms of equality of nations or has been effective in advancing causes like Human Rights or Enviornmental Protection.

          The Instititute For Global Policy and is affiliated with the World Federalist Movement are working towards moving the U.N. in that direction/and or setting up an entirely different mechanism. :

          http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_convention.h

          It is working more or less along the same lines as the Sullivan Principles ( building moral consensus, advocay, activism, influence). Enviornmental POlicy has not been a focus.
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      Jun 24 2011: Inthegarden
      I sense your frustration but you are oversimplifying things a bit. The red state blue state really has no weight. With a few exception if you are living in an urban area people will tend to be more liberal, in rural areas people tend to be conservative regardless of what state they are in. There are reasons to this. Most of rural America has been slowly eroding for decades. Farms have been consolidating leaving people to scramble for work in factories that are closing down. Much of the anger people feel is very legit, but not properly directed. As for the racism indictment, sure there are racist in rural areas, but that is found in liberal areas as well. It has as much to do with age as it does with political belief.
      I say this only to help de politicalize the argument. Just as Mario is talking about the Amazon, we have companies exploiting all they can from our section of earth. Think coal companies removing mountains. I think it is folly to put too much hope in politics. To really make a dent in these issues we need to educate people, both in what the full price of environmental exploitation is and also in teaching them they do have civic power . The thing is this can't be done if they can't be written off. Yes I know it is frustrating.
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      Jun 22 2011: I agree with all your points, Richard.

      The fact is we need to change our habits. We don't need to erode State (countries) and Sovereignty to achieve such goals. It's all about governments taking good measures on changing ppl minds.
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    Jul 20 2011: Dear All,
    I quickly went through the thread, but did not read every single comment, so I am sorry if I am repeating something that was already said. There is so much to this issue, environmentally and politically. Of course forests like the amazon should be protected at all costs, as should the oceans, the true "Earth's lungs". But it is meaningless to protect the last few healthy environments in the world, and keep our developing countries still developing countries, only so that north americans, europeans and others (who already destroyed almost all of their natural resources) can keep on having their predatory highly consumptive life style. It is time that, yes, we protect our resources, but they should change their goals in life as well: SUVs, thermoelectric plants, air conditioning on day and night, buying more objects, more clothing, new iphones and ipads every year... This behavior should change as well... As to internalization: in an ideal world, this would be a great idea. In our world, ruled by economic interests, it is just not doable.
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      Jul 21 2011: That's also my point. Thanks for stopping by.
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    Jun 24 2011: Mario..who are the Global Conservation Fund?

    I see they just signed agreements with Brazilian government heads to put several large Atakantic forest tract sunder teir protection

    http://www.conservation.org/sites/gcf/fmg/articles/Pages/Atlantic_Forest.aspx

    Was this initiative publicized in Brazil? Is it widely supported? Does it protect these resources for the Barzilian people?
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    Jun 23 2011: Mario I am a bit confused by Cristovam Buarque, most likely due to translation. I feel like what is missing from this thread is the inequality between nations. Brazil seems to be moving in the right direction economically which will give it leverage when it come to foreign nations coming in pillage resources. Combined with education about the importance of the forrest is crucial to the political change we need.
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      Jun 23 2011: The message he was trying to pass is that there are two measures for similar issues. When it comes about Amazonia, the argument is that it should be possession of the world, when the issue is about nuclear weapons or oil resources (which can have a greater impact on environment) the response different, this shouldn't be internationalized. The point is, if Amazonia should, why these others issues shouldn't? If nuclear weapons aren't to be internationalized, never should Amazonia be too.

      You touched the point of education (which is very interesting as Cristovam is one of the great advocates of Education on Brazil, and will probably occupy a seat at UNESCO one day). I think that for all problems on the world there should have and education arm, changing the way people think about the matter. This is the solution for environment, at Brazil and the world. We should protect the rainforest, that is for sure too, and education is vital for this.
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        Jun 23 2011: Thanks for the explanation. I think of the word internationalize as a word with a more corporate meaning which is something different. I'm glad he is working with educating people. The best way to change a culture is to change the youth.
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    Jun 22 2011: Hi Mario

    This the wikipedia description of "internationalization"..sounds more like what is alreday going through the world bank and theIMF, i.e.".exploitation", "domination".

    .:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internationalization

    so are you and the author at the link speaking about "internationalization" in this sense? (which is focused on development and trade) and not in the sense of "conservation" and potection of global resources?This link is a mainstream news article on the Internationalization of the Amazon associating the idea with the then head of the WTO ( which would be in keeping with the above meaning of "internationalization"..more trade focused but then it goes on to discuss the need for its "internationalization" in terms of conservation and natural resource protection

    .. Which is it?

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/needtoknow/2007/01/an_amazonian_dilemma.html

    (should you add "Internationalization" and "Global Conservation" as tags? Might attract some folk with interest and background in these two key areas.?)

    This article also several years old ( is this still a current issu??) is speaking about a meeting of Barzilian States and their united fear of "internationalization"..they cite the 3,500+ non gvernmental entities already conducting mining and other operations in the amazon but as dis ussed here it seems to be more a recurring and constant fear of intervention .

    http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2006/2006-05-18-01.html

    Is there something concrete and specific a foot now? From whom?
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      Jun 22 2011: First about Wikipedia. This is not what i'm talking about, that is internationalization in economics dynamics and trade.

      I think there might be a english word for what i'm calling internationalization (which is a direct translation i did, that can be confuse), i'll look on that.

      Anyway, internationalization is the process where a part of the territory of any State is submitted to Global Governance, usually with the UN Security Counsel at the top. This is kind a different process, because, generally, the objective of the use of global governance on a spot is create a State there, like in the case of East Timor. The rainforest, thou, would be under international control. That's the general idea of the concept.

      About the link, the writer is a brazilian journalist-economist which i don't like. She doesn't know a thing about politics and do random commentaries on the matters (she is very good on economic matters tho).

      The help she means is on terms of resources and vigilance over the territory, cause many persons that are doing bad things on the rainforest are difficult to find. Difficult because it's almost impossible to look inside the forest from satellites and because the forest is located on Brazil borders (who has the biggest share) with
      Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. That's some crazy border security, we just don't know what happens there.

      There can be guerrillas, criminals, drug dealers, and so on. That's more what she meant.
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        Jun 22 2011: Mario,

        East Timor isn;t under U.N. control..The U.N. declared them independent of portugal and self governing

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Timor
        I don't know of any place that is "internationalized" asyou are decbing nor any way that could be accomplished.

        Internationalized means as defined in wikipedia.link above as far as I can see on further research? That's what the Brazilians state leaders meant I believe in the article I linked above.

        Do you have any specific cites or information on any actual plan afoot concerning the Amazon?
        Do you have any cites to any acu.I believe
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          Jun 22 2011: East Timor had a transitional government under control by U.N. UN remade the State there under the command of Sergio Vieira de Mello.

          This kind of situation is not common because it breaks with the paradigm of Sovereignty. So it's very rare to States accept things like that and international community usually respects that.

          I don't remember know which country did that, but the is a country who asked to international community to administrate part of it's territory.

          This surely isn't common and i hope it won't come to be common.

          It's rather the discourse that is the problem. It creates these values and ideas on peoples minds and it makes them act. The case of Jonas is one example of how powerful can a discourse be, he really believes that rainforest can be bought and that it should be bought.

          This creates severe political problems for our government on internal dynamics.
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        Jun 22 2011: So Mario,
        Where is this pressure coming from. What s afot that it is athreat to Brazil's soverignty. Could you tell us more about that?
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    Jun 22 2011: Glad you started this, Mario, but I think we need to back up and get some basics out so our fellow TEDsters can access what you are bringing to us here.

    .By the way, I posted as a global value that every nation has a right to determine the management of itsown resources at our TED Conversations common Ground survey

    www.goo.gl/mod/0073.

    Please go and vote on all the values there. The pole is not very scientific and less than 40 have responded so far. Seems this is not a TED Conversation high value..#48 of 64 so we have some work to do

    . Again I think it is just not well understood what this is pointing to. We can address that here.The idea of "internationalizing" the amazon as a debt swap is horrific and really rings of the evil empire. Would set a very scary global precedent.

    . Could you say a bit more Mario about what this proposal means in global political terms?
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      Jun 22 2011: I think it would be better to post the text by this link (the first one i found was an awful site)

      http://1drop.wordpress.com/2008/05/07/internationalization-of-the-world-cristovam-buarque/



      About your question, as a student of global politics i could lay some extensive theoretic debate here, but i don't think this is what TED is about (but if u want, we can do it).

      I think this gets to the vital debate over international relations that is (as you refer to on other conversation) the clash between sovereignty and global politics, or commons. By global commons i'm speaking of goods or resources that are common to every individual in the planet, in the matter it affect us all.

      The problem is that international organizations and powerful states are focused on imposing the protection of global commons from outside the States. This Amazonian case is perfect for this.

      International Conservation and United States (among others) are strong advocates of amazonia's internationalization. This is not the right way of doing it.

      There is another way, that maintains the respect to sovereignty which is educate people, so they can protect the environment. The nationals can protect the environment on a better and less complicated way. Looking at that we have:

      Bad use of our own natural resources is counterproductive, it's giving away an human right we have. This should be the focus of international actors, not internationalization. This is called Stigler's collective action case, where interest converges with protection of global commons.

      This is actually happening on Japan and is a trend we should focus and bring it to international debate on global politics.



      PS: I voted on all ideas there and i will post mine own soon.
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        Jun 22 2011: Mario..I was thinking some basics..I don't think most people have any idea what the issue is here.
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          Jun 22 2011: You see, that's actually a very hard thing to do haha, i should work on this. It's hard to get out of theoretical discussion (on my head).

          There is a problem that is there are some things we need to preserve like nature, human rights, freedom and so on.

          The solution is very simple: we preserve this things.

          The real problem thought is who define how we preserve these things and why should we preserve by these receipts?

          The text cited reveals an example of this problem. The solution of internationalizing amazonia so all can protect it is awfully wrong.

          So, what receipt -for protecting global resources- should we look for?

          that's the debate i want to set up.
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        Jun 22 2011: When we think globally and we think about how soverignty fits into global concerns in the management of a countrie sown natural resources:

        (1) are the operations permitted by that country..mining, extaction of oil, management of wastes, refining etc. corrupting or undermining things that clearly are global resoources..the atmosphere, the oceans ( this is also at the TED poll of Common ground values)

        (2)a nations freedom under soverignty to plan for and manage its own natural resources without interference or hindrance by any other nation or by a global community.

        And of course, this ocurrs against a current back drop, where what we might consider universal human rights are not recognized right sunder soverignty and where the soverignty may be corrupt..making decisions that do not serve the nations people...an added complexity on which foreign intrevention in a country's natural resource management depends. Democracy, self governance, wealth management, self determination are not the goals of foreign interests who have their eyes on the natural resources of other nations.

        Can you explain to us

        (1) what are the attributes of the rain forest that others are claiming make it a global resource?

        (2) who if anyone is saying that the Amazon 's status as a global resource supercedes soverignty?

        (3) Is the amazion being managed now in a way that hatrms the atmosphere or harms the ocean?
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          Jun 22 2011: This is inside the controversy of scientific stats for environment, nothing is very clear. But i'll try to answer based on what i think.

          (1) Rain forest is the world's largest source of O2 renovation (i don't know much about biology), but this fact makes the existence of the forest a counter balance to CO2 emissions.

          (2) United States and most green and environmental ONG's, especially CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL - look for the Harrison Ford commercial on youtube, it's quite paradigmatic.

          (3) In fact, some people are messing with the forest for agricultural matters. But if this (considered the actual expansion rate) is going to have a heavy effect on climate change is still unknown.


          What i think is that the global power devastated all their resources on capitalist expansion process and continue to be the HEAVIER CO2 emitters. So they need to show something to their own people, and the easiest way is to say: look there at Brazil. Look at what they are doing to rain forest. The solution for climate change's problems is to save the Rain Forest by internationalizing it.
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        Jun 22 2011: Right, so shouldn't that be equitable what are the plans for the developed nations fair share of stewardship for the globe? What lands in the U.S. and Canada, for example are also designated as part of this camapign for global conservation districts?

        I think I could sign on to the idea of Global Coservation and Global stweradship if the costs and the degree of stewardship are fairly and equally shared by all others. It shouldn't be like swapping pollution credits. Every single nation should be engaged and each nation should make its own plan for what it can do for its fair shareo f stewardship, no?
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          Jun 22 2011: Sure, the problem of that solution always was that, for some nations, it wasn't interesting to apply to such a global program.

          Especially after Japan's Tsunami this is changing very fast. Interests are converging to conservation.

          I think that a International Organization on Environment is hot on the oven, ready to be created, and it will be very soon.
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        Jun 22 2011: Thnaks Mario, I did read your link ( nice website). It makes the same point I made below responding to your post ...that the responsbility for global stewradship should be equitablu shared by all nations and each nation should make it sown plans and proposals for its contrbution. That isn't for others to decide..

        Do you know anything about his reference to the Internationalization by U.s. Presidential candidates? Or about any public statements by U.S. Officials about "internationalization of the Amazon?"

        The whole idea of "internationalization" doesn't set well with me..sounds like more of the same..a few making judgments on and for the many. Imust say though I haven't run into that term. Happy to research it with you here though.
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          Jun 22 2011: Many, many presidents of USA and other countries claimed something about that issue. Bush, Thatcher, Warren Cristopher, among many other representatives of international organizations. I don't think Obama said anything about that as president, and i don't think he will. But when he was candidate there was some speculation on a text he wrote, but i think this is minor.

          But here a interest quote by Al Gore

          "Brazilians think that rain forest is theirs, but it isn't. It belongs to us all. "

          Greenpeace, conservation international, etc... Keeps hitting this discourse of amazonian preservation.

          This has real effects on people's minds, see this: http://www.finchsquarterly.com/people/one-man-and-his-rainforest/

          The discourse is constructed and people starts buying it. When you stop to look at it, the problem is already understood as a global security problem, which it isn't.

          Rainforest should be protected, but we should do it, it's our right and duty at same time.