Cocaine is Worse for the Environment Than Plastic Straws


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Your favorite party drug might contradict those Instagram stories you’ve been posting about how we need to save the Amazon rain forest. 

The most vigorous social media activism has it all wrong when it comes to environmentalism. It’s all the rage to hate on plastic straws, but what about the thing college kids are snorting on Saturday nights? 

Cocaine production and trafficking has been deemed responsible for rampant deforestation in central America. And it’s relatively unknown toor perhaps conveniently unmentioned environmental activists and recreational drug users (or those who double as both). 

A study published in 2017 linked drug trafficking, specifically narcotics such as cocaine, to “up to 30% of annual deforestation in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, turning bio-diverse forest into agricultural land.” Even more concerning is the fact that “around 30-60% of the annual loss happened within established protected areas,” according to the study’s lead author, Dr. Steven Sesnie from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

This type of extreme and large scale transformation of protected lands is detrimental to indigenous species and severely threatens conservation efforts. “[Narcos] want to move large sums of money, so you’re going to see big things happen: larger areas of deforestation, faster rates, and patches in zones that are isolated,” said Sesnie. 

Not only are these areas of deforestation much larger than those created by agriculture, but they are strategically hidden to maintain illegal drug trafficking businesses. 

Kendra Mcsweeney, a geographer at Ohio State University, traveled to Honduras’s La Mosquitia region in 2011 and realized that the once lush forest and greenery was now replaced by large swathes of seemingly random clearings. She decided to ask locals what they thought was responsible. 

Locals unanimously blamed one thing: “Los Narcos.” 

Narcos refers to the large group of drug smugglers who migrated to Honduras as Mexico’s war on drugs escalated in the mid 2000s. 

Communities in these countries have historically relied on its lush forests and diverse wildlife, but they are now being displaced.

This problem is also beginning to interfere with international programs implemented to mitigate the effects of climate change. Not to mention the fact that this deforestation is threatening 7% of the world’s biodiversity. 

There wouldn’t be any supply if there wasn’t demand. And the United States demands a lot of cocaine. There are about 1.5 million regular users in the U.S. alone. 

This epidemic isn’t just killing people, it’s killing the environment.

Many people are looking at what they can do, as one person, to help the planet, and to fight climate change. Stop doing cocaine and other narcotics. Your contribution to the demand for this drug is fueling the mass deforestation in central America. 

Your switch to reusable straws won’t do much, particularly because, even if the entire United States never used a straw again, it wouldn’t make a difference.

The United States is responsible for slightly more than 1% of plastic waste in the ocean. And only 0.025% of plastic in the ocean is plastic straws. 

So, if you’re looking to help combat the looming threat of climate change, and actually want to make a difference, stop campaigning for a law against straws and start campaigning for crackdowns on narcotic trafficking worldwide. 

If you’re on a college campus, a hotbed of recreational drug activity, spread the word about the environmental impact of narcotics. 

Julia is a senior at The University of South Carolina studying political science and journalism. In addition to writing for Lone Conservative, she is also a student reporter for The College Fix.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Julia Johnson

Julia is a senior at The University of South Carolina studying political science and journalism. In addition to writing for Lone Conservative, she is also a student reporter for The College Fix.

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