United States Opioid Addiction Is Killing Rainforest

INFOCUS247

The jungles in Guatemala’s northern reaches are some of the most biodiverse forests north of the Amazon. They’re one of the last remaining homes for jaguars, tapirs, and scarlet macaws. And they’re being systematically destroyed.

There are a number of factors that contribute to deforestation in Guatemala, but the impact of drug trafficking has had a measurable effect. Drug traffickers set up shop in the region, grabbing up land and tearing down trees to build landing strips for airplanes, or to set up farms, which they use to launder money. Narco-deforestation, as it’s known, has long been a problem, but America’s opioid epidemic is almost certainly making it worse.

It’s a link that hasn’t yet been made by researchers, but data from conservation, drug policy, and health literature add up to a compelling indication that our addiction to painkillers is playing a role in the destruction of this precious ecosystem.

Widespread addiction to…

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