A Very Inexpensive Way to Save
the Amazonian Rainforest

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

It's very expensive to try to override what people are doing for their own reasons. Five percent or more of the Amazonian rainforest, part of our Earth's lungs, disappears to slash-and-burn agriculture and cattle farming each year, and in turn a few years later turns into desert. International efforts to buy up rainforest to preserve it, and to pressure state and national governments into policies more conducive to conservation, are not only expensive but stir much resentment and suspicion.

There is another, easier, simpler, and immensely less costly way to save not only a large part of our world's priceless oxygen supply, and absorption of those world-heating greenhouse gases we insist on continuing to produce in our own country, but also the thousands of rare and endangered species before we even learn of their existence much less their potential value to us, and literally thousands if not millions of specialized substances of potentially great health and pharmaceutical value to us. This is that way:

Change the incentives among the people who are now in that Amazonian situation or who are acting upon it. A total investment of probably less than five(!) million (not billion!) dollars, easily within reach of even a single philanthropist or nature-advocacy group, can not only result in preserving what remains of the Amazonian rainforest but in its actual restoration!!! Here is how to do that.

The Solution
Amazonian iguana require a forest habitat. A very efficient feed converter, such lizards make an excellent meat animal, tasting similar to chicken. The change in incentive, the solution that can save the Amazon and all its richnesses, is:

Put up prizes for the best iguana recipes, and the best iguana cookbooks, and generally to promote a world-wide fad for iguana cuisine. The resultant demand will make iguana-ranching far more profitable for the peoples of the Amazon than their present-day slash-and-burn agriculture. Adam Smith's "invisible guiding hand" will lead them to actually be replanting the Amazon instead of destroying it, restoring the forest habitat for that which has become profitable to them.

What can YOU do?
We seem to have in this country a remarkable tendency to just get louder and more expensive when policies and "solutions" we've decided on don't work, and to become even more impervious than before to alternative possible solutions.

Nature conservancy groups with whom I've discussed this Amazon-saving alternative thus far just haven't been interested, perhaps because it's so inexpensive and wouldn't provide much of an occasion for adding numbers to their membership and clout to their politics.

Nonetheless, you are looking here at a very possible, simple and inexpensive way to bring about an important part of their avowed purpose. If it's important to you to keep on breathing in future years, among other things, talk this idea up with at least a few other people, and bring this article to their attention.

Also, if there are other issues of common concern which are of interest to you, you may want to take a look at our book, Incentives As A Preferred Instrument of Corporate and Public Policy, now in its 4th edition (2001), to see if there are similar inexpensive alternatives to some of the other great issues and community or societal difficulties which seem too vast and involved to even contemplate. And/or, beyond the specifics of incentive science, to unleash upon such matters your own vast creative problem-solving skills as expressed through such highly various but simple, specific, self-taught techniques as those found in the Creative Problem Solving section of this website.


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Win Wenger

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