Monday, March 21, 2005

No Marquis of Queensbury rules

In 1867 an English gentleman, the Marquis of Queensbury, developed new rules for boxing intended to make it a "gentleman's sport." The main innovations were the requirement for boxing gloves and the prohibition against hitting a man when he's already down. Hence, when someone attacks another person ruthlessly verbally or physically with no sense of restraint we often say that "the gloves were off."

That unfortunately is increasingly the case for environmental activists around the world, but especially in developing countries. The activists face assault and even death for trying to stop environmental damage from illegal logging and other environmental crimes. Recently, an American nun was killed resisting illegal loggers in the Brazilian rainforest. This Los Angeles Times story details a movement which has formed around a militant Catholic priest in Honduras aimed at stopping indiscriminate logging.

What few people know is that forests are more than sources of wood, wild products or game. They are essential parts of the world's water cycle. Cutting them can spell drought for the country that does it. Rivers and water tables are often ruined as a result, leaving people without water to drink. That is starting to happen in Honduras and so the priest and his followers are now taking direct action to stop logging until the government agrees to new policies and better enforcement.

(Comments are open to all. See the list of environmental blogs on my sidebar.)

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