Cocaine Blues: Coke-Heads Aiding Rainforest Destruction

Image Credit: The Sun
Anti-Drug Campaigners Target 'Ethical' Consumers
Type "cocaine" into the search bar on TreeHugger and you won't come up with much. That's because cocaine use is not a very TreeHugger-like activity, right? (If you need convincing, witness Eliza's excellent post on the environmental destruction wreaked by drug-smuggling planes.) Yet the liberalization of attitudes towards drugs over the last few decades means that many people will know folks who indulge in cocaine and other 'hard' drugs. I'm no exception. Click below the fold for why cocaine is destroying the environment, and a video of all the disgusting things that are used to make it.
I tend to believe in live-and-let-live. I'm as likely to turn a friend in for buying a gram of cocaine as I am to call the cops when they speed on the highway. But it has always puzzled me that folks who would not touch a non-Fair Trade cappuccino; who insist on organic produce; and who argue against factory farming would support a trade rife with human rights abuses and environmental destruction (not to mention countless lives ruined by addiction). The anti-drugs lobby is clearly catching on to this moral dissonance, as witnessed by a recent speech given by the vice-president of Colombia at a conference of UK chief police officers. Here's more from The Guardian on how green concerns may convince some drug users to think again:

Francisco Santos Calderón, the vice-president of Colombia, appealed to British users of the class A drug to consider the impact on the environment. He said that while the green agenda would not persuade addicts to give up, the middle-class social user who drove a hybrid car and was concerned about the environment might not take the drug if they knew its impact. Santos said 300,000 hectares of rainforest were destroyed each year in Colombia to clear land for coca plant cultivation, predominantly controlled by illegal groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as Farc.

Of course advocates of legalization would argue that it is prohibition, not the drug itself, which causes such destruction. But that's a little like arguing that the law should mandate renewable energy, organics, clean coal or benign fuels — in the meantime I'll drive, eat, use whatever I want. It remains to be seen whether this latest tactic in the fight against drugs sways any hearts, minds or noses — but it is certainly a lot more subtle, nuanced and potentially effective than the failed "Just Say No" campaigns of old.

UPDATE: And just for the LOHAS crowd - the chemicals that go into cocaine are pretty disgusting too. Scroll below and you'll see a video of just what goes into coke manufacture.
The Guardian

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