Cocaine trade is fueling climate change, research confirms
The cocaine trade is fueling deforestation, climate change and migration.
“My actions aren’t harming anyone,” It’s just on weekends,” says the cocaine user.
But meanwhile, back at the ranch, your frivolous fun is harming someone very important: Mother Earth.
New research released this week shows that cocaine trafficking- and efforts to stop it- is costing $214.6 million in damages every year, with drug-related deforestation not only driving people out of the region but is also fueling climate change.
To avoid law enforcement South American drug traffickers travel through remote (and sometimes protected national forests) in Central America to get their product into North America. To launder their money, drug traffickers invest in agriculture and ranching, two trades known for bulldozing and burning forests to make way for livestock.
With more than 20% of global carbon emissions coming from deforestation, the cocaine industry is definitely contributing to this ecological crisis.
Drug control and conservation
Bernardo Aguilar-González, executive director of the conservation NGO Fundación Neotrópica and an author on two of the reports says, “You cannot do drug control policy and conservation policy separately, you have to do them in harmony.”
He also cites American money as major contributor to the problem and hopes the research will change the way the world approaches drug policy.
“Investing in community land rights and participatory governance in protected areas is a key strategy to combat drug trafficking and climate change simultaneously,” he adds.
Researchers are urging politicians to protect Central American forests. One way to do so is by allowing indigenous tribes and local communities to manage their own spaces.
The cocaine trade isn’t going anywhere, but hopefully drug control and conservation can band together and decrease it’s impact on climate change.