Feeds

Snort coke, shaft the environment, say boffins

Cocaine: Now with even more added guilt

Business security measures using SSL

Snorting cocaine is an environmental crime whatever your views on drug use, scientists declared last week.

A panel of scientists meeting at the Natural History Museum in London last week detailed how the production of the drug and its trafficking affect biodiversity and contribute to climate change.

The production of a gram of cocaine means the destruction of four square metres of Colombian forest, they said, raising the question of which supermodels, popstars and city types should be lined up with hummer drivers and big game hunters in the environmental most-wanted stakes.

Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the planet, and also the biggest cocaine producer. Bad combination.

Cocaine production is a threat to environment is all its stages, said Liliana Davalos, lecturer in Molecular Ecology at the Open University, UK. The first step of the cycle is the destruction of forest to plant coca. Every year, 100 thousand hectares of Colombian forest is destroyed for this end. The plantations also use tons of herbicides that are forbidden in many other countries. Since the UK is one of the world’s largest consumption markets for cocaine, it makes concerns about organic tomatoes and pesticides seem futile.

Then, the coca leaves must be soaked in solvents to release their psychotropic substances. Every year, 20 million litres of acetone, 13 million litres of gasoline and 81 thousand litres of sulphuric acid are used in this process and then thrown away, untreated, in rivers and water streams.

Transporting the product demands the clearing of more forests for landing strips, preferably in national parks and conservation areas. "These areas belong to the Government, so no owner can be held liable for the illegal activities," Davalos points out.

Finally, the Colombian government's efforts to eradicate the plantations only serve to exacerbate the situation. They use planes to spray herbicides over coca plantations, with predictably gruesome consequences for insects, amphibians and other plants in the area. Growers then move to other areas, clear the native vegetation and start all over again.

For those who are convinced of the huge impact of their stimulant consumption and want to change for a milder and more ethical one, massive doses of caffeine are the way to go.

Coffee from shade trees cultivation farms, where the bushes are grown in the shadow of native taller trees, is a much more eco-friendly option. "Biodiversity in these plantations is almost as high as in primary forests," said botanist Sandy Knapp from the Natural History Museum.

So, the geek classic stimulant is eco-friendly, while the yuppie classic is a no no.®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.