Less than a week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s final, terrifying, and understated report, NPR’s Morning Edition got more small-scale and covered an intriguing low-carbon project in Brazil with a simple premise: grow more cacao trees.
The rain forest in eastern Brazil, where NPR’s Joanne Silberner reported from, is coming down at an alarming rate: Only 7 percent of the existing forest remains, and every time a tree is cleared and burned, it releases all its stored carbon. Local farmers used to harvest significant quantities of cacao, but low prices and pests have cut the acreage dramatically over the last few decades.
A few farmers want to save the industry, and possibly collect carbon credits, by growing the cacao trees inside the rain forest canopy—cutting down only a few tall trees and growing the cacao trees underneath. The technique decreases the number of cacao trees per acre, but reduces disease and problems with pests. And cacao from trees grown like this should fetch a premium price.
It’s no global solution, but as Silberner concludes, “[I]n this little corner of the world, it may help. And at least we’ll have more chocolate.”