There is a way we can eliminate the national deficit—maybe even the national debt—and at the same time reduce global warming and rescue endangered species. We should each write to our elected representatives in Congress and the White House, as well as candidates for those positions:
First, the U.S. government should partner with experts to show rainforest landowners and their countries how to harvest the rainforests more sustainably. (It is true that cutting down rainforest for timber yields $400 per acre; but if medicinal plants and other renewable and sustainable resources are harvested, the land will yield $2,000 more. This is discussed at rain-tree.com.)
If we divide the extra money between the U.S. government, the experts, the landowners, and the landowners’ governments, each will make $500 an acre. With 2.8 billion acres of world rainforests, this should amount to $1.4 trillion a year. This would eliminate the deficit—and if combined with some deficit reduction measures, e.g. those of Senator Coburn and/or a reintroduction of the Buffett Rule, it could eliminate the national debt.
Subsistence farmers need to break free of the need to continually clear rainforest. There is a way to do this, called Inga alley cropping, discussed at rainforestsaver.org. Once farmers learn this, they can pass it on to their neighbors for next to nothing.
As for the need to cut down trees for firewood, an organization known as Solar Cookers International obviates such need for probably only $5 a person.
Some of the world’s lumber companies may of course need assistance in learning sound practices of selectivity without clear-cutting, but we could make that knowledge available for a fee.
Alexander Sokolow lives in Santa Monica.