Despite Laws, Amazon Jungle Disappearing

Even president's tough new measures may not halt rapid deforestation
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2008 6:29 AM CST
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, listens to his Environment Minister Marina Silva during an emergency cabinet meeting at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The deforestation of the Amazon jungle is speeding up, and Brazil may be unable to stop it, Time magazine reports. Over the last five months an estimated 2,700 square miles of forest have been cleared—more than twice the size of Rhode Island. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has reacted with tough new regulations banning deforestation in some areas, but many fear they can't be enforced in the wild and against owners whose identity is unknown.

Green groups supported Lula’s election, but now accuse him of bowing to Brazil’s booming agribusinesses by failing to enforce laws. Until Brazil admits agriculture’s role in the problem, little will change, they say. “This is only a surprise if you believe in Father Christmas,” said one Brazilian environmentalist. And with the Amazon region absorbing most of the world's carbon, stakes couldn't be higher.