How The International Drug War Is Helping To Warm The Planet

The prohibition and attempted eradication of drugs can be a nightmare for the climate and environment. Particularly in Latin America, the fight against drug production has led to deforestation, widespread contamination with toxic chemicals, and contributed to a warming climate.

Part of the problem is when drug war policies unintentionally destroy non-drug plants that should be converting CO2 to oxygen and slowing warming. Colombia uses aerial fumigation with glyphosate herbicides, popularly known by the trademark Roundup, to kill coca crops that are used to make cocaine. But glyphosate doesn’t just kill coca. It’s designed to kill any plants it comes into contact with. And since planes have sprayed 1.6 million hectares with clouds of the herbicide between 1996 and 2012 — in the world’s second-most biodiverse country — the amount of unintended plant destruction is huge due to imprecision and human error. The Colombian government received 6,500 public complaints in 2002 alone for destroyed food crops, environmental damage, and harm to human health.

Fumigation is only the beginning of the deforestation. As drug producers are driven from their growing sites by eradication efforts, they go deeper into remote forests and national parks. Drug cultivators abandon land that’s been clear-cut and often poisoned by herbicides to cut down new forests, and they don’t just clear land for coca. The cultivators also need clear land to grow food, and to build roads, houses, and even airstrips. Without access to safe disposal or any regulation to require it, drug manufacturers dump toxic chemical byproducts wherever they can, polluting the land and water.

– Read the entire article at Think Progress.