J500 Media and the Environment

The forecast calls for white-out conditions by mackenzies09

Cocaine. It’s the drug of choice for uptown socialites, swanky power brokers and runway darlings. For many it is a status symbol, the chicest of highs.

In reality it is an ecological symbol of destruction. Every step of the cocaine production process involves environmental devastation. Every gram of cocaine destroys four square meters of rainforest, causing soil erosion, landslides, and species extinction. Colombia’s rainforests are home to approximately 10 percent of the world’s species and more than 51,000 species of plants. The Amazon alone creates 15 percent of the world’s oxygen supply. Will a blizzard of cocaine production freeze out this fragile life force?

Chemicals used to process the raw coca leaves, diesel, kerosene, sulfuric acid, acetone, and carbide are often dumped into rivers and streams, polluting vital water sources and killing aquatic species.

Colombia produces 60 percent of the world’s cocaine supply each year. And despite the “efforts” of the US drug policy, it isn’t slowing in the slightest. The UN reported  a 27 percent increase in coca growth from 2007 to 2008.

Coca offers the best livable wage to Colombian farmers who create a paste from its narcotic elements. Traffickers pay little more than the cost of production supplies, which are often paid for on credit. These traffickers then turnaround and make a huge profit by selling processed cocaine in the US and Europe. In the meantime, the farmers must grow more and more coca to pay their debts and keep food on the table.

And there are countless causalities who are gunned down by drug lords and petty street criminals. South American traffickers work directly with Mexican cartels, pushing the war zone farther north. This intricate web of violence has now spread to 230 US cities.

Cocaine destroys people, from the rich who snort it up their rhinoplastic noses to the poor Colombian farmers who slave over it.

What does it say about Americans, whose status symbol is a shackle that threatens to pull us from our high and sink us all?


video courtesy of youtube

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3 Comments so far
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I have no idea cocaine production was so harmful to the environment. It’s a shame that food crops aren’t as valued as coca, and the latter is the Colombian people’s only way to make money. Subsidies would help those farmers, and maybe more support for the local food system would get people to buy more produce. Is there anything else that can be done?

Comment by jessicasb

I had no idea that so many chemicals are used to make cocaine! Not to mention that the farmers can hardly make a living off of it. It seems the only way to make any difference is to reduce the demand and obviously there hasn’t been much success in that. I do think that if users could see what goes into the production of cocaine they might think twice… I would.

Comment by christinaw09

People like to believe that coke is a “pure” substance but obviously it’s not. It’s really sad that poor people who could never afford to have a coke habit get caught up in the cycle. And the Amazon rainforest is in jeopardy because people want to get high.

Comment by mackenzies09

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