I am extremely glad that Brazil is apparently taking concrete action to curtail illegal logging in the Amazon. Having been to Paragominas, a logging center, as well as many other places in the amazon I can attest that the devestation is huge. The scale, unfortunately, is so large that it sounds like the police actions currently being taken are simply a drop in the bucket.

Another silver lining in this is the crackdown on illegal charcoal making. Not that I have a huge problem with charcoal in general but it has been a magnet for child labor in the past, more than likely still is, and is a pretty shitty way to use up one of the greatest forests in the world. I remember specifically visiting a small logging mill in the Amazon ...

and being told by our guide not to take out our camera's in the vicinity of the charcoal ovens as this would lead to us immediately being kicked out. Lo and behold, as we approached we were treated to the sight of a boy and girl, neither over 12, scooping charcoal dust from an oven.

Of all of the vileness of child labor charcoal production has got to be one of the worst. These kids were crawling into what amounts to a room sized fireplace and shoveling the dust out in preparation for the next burn. They were covered in soot from head to toe and all I could think of was whether it was possible to contract black lung before the age of 20.

This image is copyrighted and I won't post it here, but do click the link to get an idea of what I'm talking about.