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By Barry Wigmore
|For a dozen years, pop superstar Sting has warned that man has
brought the Amazon rainforest to the verge of extinction. He and
a host of celebrities have insisted that Amazonia2.7 million
square miles of nearly impenetrable Brazilian forest, an area
nearly as big as the lower 48 statesis being destroyed at a horrifying
But now, two of the worlds top eco-scientists, Patrick Moore and Philip Stott, say the save-the-rainforest movement is wrong: at best, vastly misleading; at worst, a gigantic con.
All these save-the-forests arguments are based on bad science, says Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace who recently returned from a fact-finding mission to the Amazon. They are quite simply wrong. We found that the Amazon rainforest is more than 90 percent intact. We flew over it and met all the environmental authorities. We studied satellite pictures of the entire area.
TV reporter Marc Morano, who had spent more than a year investigating the rainforest movements claims for an American Investigator TV program that was broadcast nationally last July, says he was amazed when he discovered the truth. He says the statistics he foundbacked up by satellite imagery of the forestsspeak for themselves.
We learned that only 12.5 percent of the original Amazon has been deforested, leaving 87.5 percent intact, he said. Of the 12.5 percent deforested, one-third to one-half of that land is fallow or in the process of regeneration. That means that at any given moment up to 94 percent of the total Amazon is left to nature. That is not wanton destruction.
Stott, who has spent nearly 30 years studying tropical forests, agrees. Many of these stars want to have an impact beyond their normal music and the environment is an area that they feel they can move into quite easily, he says. Its a convenient one for them to go to. So a lot of the young teenagers, the 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds, follow them.
Everyone has jumped on the rainforest bandwagonfrom actor Leonardo DiCaprio to supermodel Naomi Campbell, from Greenpeace to the Rainforest Foundation, the group formed by Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler. William Shatner Star Treks Capt. Kirkbeamed down to earth to narrate a National Geographic video, saying rainforest is being cleared at the rate of 20 football fields per minute.
These eco-warriors say the rainforests are the lungs of the earth, pumping out oxygen. Without them, they say, we will all choke on polluting hydrocarbons.
The eco-warriors turned out in force last May for the 10th annual Save the Rainforest rock concert at Carnegie Hall. Sting, Elton John, Billy Joel and Tom Jones joined hands with Ricky Martin, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder before a sellout crowd of 1,800. During one set, Sting, Jones and Martin donned Day-Glo wigs to become Gladys Knights backup group, the Pips.
After the concert, the celebrities trooped to the Pierre for an auction. Marie Claire magazine editor Glenda Bailey paid $8,000 for lunch with Courtney Cox. An afternoon sail on Billy Joels yacht went for $20,000. A walk-on part on Law and Order cost $45,000. And co-chairwoman Sarah Van Breathnach paid $140,000 to do a duet with Sting on Every Breath You Take.
Altogether, the night raised more than $2.7 million for Stings foundation, and the feel-good factor was enormous.
The rainforest movement started when the environmentally friendly Body Shop company decided to buy nuts from Amazon Indians to put in its lotions. Not to be outdone, Sting took three Amazon tribal chiefs on a world tour in 1989. First stops: the pope and French President François Mitterrand. Brazilian environment minister Otavio Moreira Lima was furious. We see this melancholy spectacle of an Amazon chief in Europe being presented like a prized wild animal in the hands of a rock singer, he said. This is revolting and I consider it an affront. But he was ignored.
Two of the worlds top
Barry Wigmore is a freelance feature writer working mostly for the London Times. He lives in New Fairfield, Conn.This piece appeared in The New York Post on June 8, 2000.