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A Perfect Storm in the Amazon Wilderness: Success and Failure in the Fight to Save an Ecosystem of Critical Importance to the Planet

Timothy J. Killeen

Vital reading for all those interested in the conservation of the world’s most important ecosystem

In a lucid style backed by encyclopaedic knowledge, Killeen unpicks the extremely complex ecological and socio-political threads that comprise the recent history and the vital future of the Pan Amazon region. The fight to save the Amazon is a fight for sustainability that is emblematic of the entire future of human co-existence with Nature on Earth. Killeen is an authoritative and impassioned guide, eschewing soundbites in favour of a clearsighted and highly nuanced picture of the realities on the ground. Only in understanding present realities and how they came to pass, he argues, can we proceed hopefully into the future. Events of the last ten years are discussed in detail, because future events will have to build upon – or modify – the cultural and economic forces driving events in the Pan Amazon. Nonetheless, the text provides a longer historical perspective to show how policies create legacies that reverberate over decades, long after they have been recognised as being fundamentally flawed.

The book does not demonise stakeholder groups or economic actors, but explains the social and economic realities that constrain their decisions and motivates them to act as they do. Likewise, it identifies the policies that have created a foundation for positive change, as well as those that are not delivering the benefits their advocates had hoped to generate.

The broad scope and descriptive detail of the narrative will provide the reader with an understanding of the synergies among the multiple complex phenomena that threaten the conservation of the Amazon, as well as an objective analysis of the alternative production models and regulatory reforms that are essential for bending the arc of history and saving an ecosystem on critical importance to the planet Killeen makes no attempt to predict the future via a ‘scenarios analysis’, but he does identify certain phenomena that will most definitely happen (regardless of new policies or market forces), those that might or might not happen (depending on new policies and markets forces), some that should never happen (e.g., extreme climate change), and those that absolutely must happen in order to change the current trajectory of Amazonian development (e.g., revenue transfers that can change human behaviour).


Published Open Access in serial form (CC BY 4.0)

All enquiries to sarah@whpress.co.uk

Chapter One published 22 April 2021, Earth Day

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An essential update on the State of the Amazon, this much enlarged and Open Access second edition of A Perfect Storm in the Amazon Wilderness provides an overview of the topics most relevant to the conservation of the region’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and indigenous cultures, as well as a description of the conventional and sustainable development models vying for space within the regional economy. Chapter One provides a sobering description of the political economy of the Pan Amazon region by exploring the metrics used to compile official estimates of GDP. Killeen provides an eye-opening evaluation of the challenges global society faces as it seeks to change the direction of Amazonian development.

doi:10.3197/9781912186228.ch01

Chapter Two published 30 June 2021

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Online supplement 2.1 Download PDF (332kB). View as HTML

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