Time Magazine is warning that opening up oil production on a Texas-sized chunk of the Amazon rain forest could lead to long term destruction of the jungle. Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil will be offering land for E&P, and representatives from Duke University and environmental groups Save America's Forests and Land is Life are protesting the move. They argue that development will cause irreparable harm to these sections of the jungle, which is for the most part untouched by human development. So this brings up an interesting scenario. The Amazon forest covers 1.6 million square miles, which accounts for 40% of South America. About 20% of the Amazon has already been slashed, burned and developed. So naturally, the thought of further destruction to the Amazon Forest, which is held in near mythic regard by most environmentalist, would be criminal to such groups. And let's face it, South American countries don't have the best policies for converting wilderness to civilization. Oil production is in particular a nasty business, with many state-run NOCs using horribly outdated equipment and spilling petroleum all over the place during production. The fields can sometimes look like ecological nightmares. However, we must not forget that South Americans are trying to develop oil reserves not because they hate rainforests and like destroying them, but rather because they want to make money. Money is needed for development, for social programs, for building infrastructure and generally for bringing your country out of the Dark Ages. And lest we forget, we bleeding heart Americans shouldn't forget that our recent past was full of environmental tampering. If Greenpeace had been around in the 19th century and seen the pollution billowing from factories, the dynamiting of mountains to create tunnels for trains, the strip mining, the deforestation... they would have pitched a royal fit. But these things we did, not out of evil but out of a desire for progress. And gradually we refined our work and reduced our footprint on the land. So the question arises of just what right we have, with the ecological skeletons in our closet, to demand other developing nations to not better themselves and eventually learn the lessons we did? We can't have it both ways, demanding to have freeways, mass-produced goods and money that comes from developing our local oil and gas reserves while at the same time condemning other people for wanting the same thing. I agree that South Americans can learn a thing or two from our development processes, and reduce the damage done to the forests. That's a given. But to tell them they can't have it at all is at the least ridiculous, and at worst, blatantly hypocritical. –Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week; www.OilandGasInvestor.com; spayne@hartenergy.com