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).

VOLUME 1: The Conventional Economy and the Drivers of Change
Volume 1, comprising the first four chapters of the book, is now available as a paperback or an eBook.
Paperback, 484 pages (ISBN 978-1-912186-23-5) £42, order here.
eBook, 484 pages (eISBN 978-1-912186-63-1) Open Access on JSTOR and OAPEN.

Volumes 2 and 3 will be published when they are ready.

All chapters are published Open Access in serial form (CC BY 4.0).
All published chapters are available to read at the Environment and Society Portal.
All enquiries to Sarah [@] whpress.co.uk.

Chapter One – The State of the Amazon – published 22 April 2021, Earth Day
PDF (16.8MB)PDF (low res 2.6MB)EPub (8.5MB)
DOI: 10.3197/9781912186228.ch01

Chapter Two – Infrastructure Defines the Future – published 30 June 2021
PDF (59.3MB)PDF (low res 13.5MB)EPub (17.1MB)
DOI: 10.3197/9781912186228.ch02

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

Chapter Three – Agriculture: Profitability Determines Land Use – published 19 August 2021
PDF (27.9MB)PDF (low res 3.6MB)EPub (10.6MB)
DOI: 10.3197/9781912186228.ch03.

Chapter Four – Land: The Ultimate Commodity – published 26 March 2022
PDF (37.9MB)PDF (low res 6.7MB)EPub (15.6MB)
DOI: 10.3197/9781912186228.ch04

Chapter Five – Mineral Commodities: A Small Footprint with a Large Impact – published 16 June 2023
PDF (37.9MB)PDF (low res 6.7MB)
DOI: 10.3197/9781912186228.ch05

Chapter Six – Culture and Demographics Define the Present – published 16 April 2024
PDF (43.6MB)PDF (low res 7MB)
DOI: 10.3197/9781912186228.ch06

Forthcoming chapters will appear here as soon as they are ready:
7 – Governance: Much Improved but Far from Adequate
8 – Biocommerce: The Quest for Sustainability
9 – Advances in Biodiversity Science
10 – Knowledge is Power: Deforestation, Water Cycles and Climate Change
11 – An Indigenous Awakening
12 – Conservation Report Card
13 – What Next?

A Perfect Storm on Mongabay

More information about the project, including Spanish and Portuguese summaries, is available on Mongabay:

Q&A with Author Timothy Killeen
Further writing and analysis
LIBRO | Una tormenta perfecta en la Amazonía
LIVRO | Uma tempestade perfeita na Amazônia