A New Commodities Boom Doesn’t Mean Ecological Doom – by Mac Margolis (Bloomberg News – January 2, 2018)


The world’s renewed appetite for natural riches once again tests Latin America.

Demand is surging again for oil, minerals and grains – the basic goods to which Latin America`s fortunes have long been tethered. After a year of graft scandals and political whiplash, you can just about hear the sighs of collective relief. Or is that just a giant sucking sound?

Since the voyages of discovery, raw materials and farm goods have been Latin America’s blessing and its trap, filling official coffers but too often despoiling the environment and condemning economies to boom and bust.

Through last decade’s swoon, hopes ran high that China’s demand would help clients climb the value chain and become developed nations. Yet Latin America still relies on grains, minerals and raw energy for half its export revenues, the same share as three decades ago.

Will a new spike in foreign appetites portend anything different? Quite possibly yes, but not in a good way: think falling forests, strained watersheds and more climate-cooking carbon gas.

True, Latin Americans are more zealous about their environment than ever, and less inclined to swallow the official cant that smog and charred stumps are just the collateral damage of progress.

For the rest of this column: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-02/a-new-commodities-boom-doesn-t-mean-ecological-doom