Is the Amazon Rainforest Worth an $18 Billion Bailout?

large section of deforestation in the Amazon

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20% of the Amazon Rainforest is gone, but the remaining 80% can still be saved.

New research was recently published in the journal Science which estimates that deforestation of Brazil's rainforest could be halted for a (relatively) scant 6.5 billion to $18 billion bailout. According to the article, "The End of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon," if the harmful practice were to cease, we would see global CO2 levels declining between 2% and 5% from where they are today.

Too Big to Fail?

In a world where banks and privately-owned companies have received 'lifelines' nearing $1 trillion, can we agree that the push to curb CO2 emissions is "too big to fail" as well? The article is the product of a collaboration between the several US and Brazilian environmental research organizations and universities. It considers the recent efforts made by Brazil to ease the problem, namely that the government has managed to quell illegal logging operations and the sale of beef produced on deforested land. In fact, the crackdown has been so successful, the rate of deforestation has dropped to 64% of what it was in 2005.

Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center, one of the article's contributors:

Market forces and Brazil's political will are converging in an unprecedented opportunity to end deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon with 80 percent of the forest still standing.

Estimated Brazilian Amazon Bailout Cost

The research concludes that it would take up to $18 billion, between 2010 and 2020, to provide Brazil added momentum in their already remarkable effort. The money would be used to create support and incentives for forest people who may see illegal logging as their means of survival; to reward law-abiding ranchers and farmers, and to step-up policing in the region.Going into the climate change conference in Copenhagen next week, Brazil has already proven to be quite committed to cutting CO2 emissions, which it hopes to reduce by close to 38% percent by 2020, and its deforestation rate by 20% that same year.

If the article's analysis is correct and an $18 billion bailout would mean the end of deforestation in the Amazon, shouldn't this be a no-brainer? Really, when was the last time AIG or JP Morgan produced 20% of the world's oxygen?