The Amazon rain forest, second to the Atlantic Ocean as the wettest place on the planet and right behind Australia as the deadliest, is being destroyed at paces far greater than anticipated.
"Of course, we are very excited," said Brazilian Environmental Minister Marina Silva. "To see an increase like that, to see all these people pushing 24-7 to rid the planet of this trouble spot is very encouraging. It brings a tear to my eye."
The Brazilian government had hoped for a deforestation increase of 2 percent in 2004 over the 9,500 square miles slashed in 2003, but was happily surprised when satellite photos showed the rate increase was closer to 6 percent.
Silva added that she expects 132 new McDonald's in Manaus any time now.
"Once we cut down the trees and make way for the trucks and cows and surly American teen workers, we're changing the name to McManaus," Silva gleefully added through a mouthful of Big-Mac. She belched and then punted a Pygmy Marmoset out the window into traffic.
Data gathered from talkative ranchers, attention-seeking soy bean farmers, gossipy Capuchins and nosey satellites confirmed that loggers have burned and cut an area of 10,088 square miles in only 12 months- just short of a record set in 1995 of 11,200 square miles.
"You know, I'm really proud of our guys," said Duraflame logging foreman Jake van Der Wahl. "They gave it their all, were out there everyday giving 110 percent. That '95 unit was anchored by some greats, like Peter "Chainsaw Massacre" Bunyan, Ray "Orchid Stomper" Clement, and Bobby " the Jaguar Puncher" Platts. Those guys are legends and just to be mentioned in the same breath is honor enough."
But others didn't view the figures with such wide-eyed Ocelot optimism.
"It's a waste," said Paulo Metara, Chief of the Board of Directors of the Burn Baby Burn-Amazon Solutions program. "Clearly, production could be ramped up. It's infuriating because this is obviously not a top concern for the government."
An anonymous government official admitted that the Death Squads running rampant through the slums of Rio de Janeiro and murdering at random through the poverty-stricken countryside had edged out the rainforest as a primary concern.
"They just won't stop killing people," confided the official.
Burn Baby Burn-Amazon Solutions (BBB-AS) has its own reasons to see the rainforest depletion running full-steam - the company sells "Amazing Amazon Herbs" that gives increased energy, a boost to the immune system, flight and immortality to customers who consume the all-natural capsules. Brochures claim the herbs are "just as good as eating radioactive waste, but without the aftertaste!" BBB-AS has been recruiting "eco-entrepreneurs" like mad Pink-Toed Tarantulas, but is still estimated to be falling short of their 2005 sales goals, which has three of their stockholders on a Maalox diet.
If the rainforest is left to exist, BBB-AS fears that its secret recipe of eleven herbs and insect wings could be discovered and the company would loose billions to generic knock-offs. It's already seeing a portion of its target market switching to lower cost products from an increasing number of competitors. Currently, there 7,595 registered companies in the Brazilian Amazon, and these numbers are increasing rapidly.
"We have a business plan that is as delicate as a Longwing Butterfly. And right now, our profit margins are in the toilet," said Metara. "Everyday the rainforest continues to exist is another day we have to live in fear of industrial espionage, damp socks and increased market pressure from our competitors. The Brazilian officials don't understand: we've got what we need, now destroy the evidence."
He added that the government seemed to lack any knowledge of basic business ethics, citing "This wouldn't happen in America or eastern Europe. The rainforest would be a shopping mall by now."
Brazil and other local governments have been trying their best to secure the future of pharmaceutical companies that have blossomed in the area, clinging to the Amazon's Samauma trees like soon to be exterminated algae-covered sloths. The rainforest, which covers 1.6 million square miles and covers more than half of Brazil, has been a sore spot between the government, pharmaceutical companies, McDonald's, environmentalists and loggers. Everyone pretty much ignores the indigenous tribes.
"Once they start wearing pants, exhibiting shame for their bodies and acting like adults, then we'll let them have a say," said Brazilian Forest Service Minister Arturo Ibama. "You can't expect to negotiate with people that have no concept of commerce- it's fruitless."
He then lit a Harpy Eagle on fire and smoked it.
In late 2002, the Brazilian government shocked everyone when it announced to earmark $140 million to curtail deforestation. Much of the commercial and private sectors were bewildered with why the government would commit so much money to a conflicting program, and many corporate MBA-holders felt downright betrayed.
"That was like a knife in the back," said Lincoln Log company head Randolph "Twiggy" Booth.
"That was like a knife in the back," echoed Metara, putting a Saddleback Tamarin in a headlock and elbowing it in the back.
Lincoln Log, Duraflame and BBB-AS, along with several thousand other companies responded by forming the "You Can't Stop Us" (YCSU) Coalition and plunged unspecified billions of dollars to curtail, the government's curtail on deforestation. The Coalition's primary purpose was to bribe any and all government officials and toss any and all opposition from rapidly moving vehicles. The government quickly backed down and catapulted tapirs at Brazil nut trees to show their respect.
But all parties continue to be pleased, especially since the figures for 2005 are looking like the best in over a decade.
"We had a long stretch there when we couldn't get over 10,000[square miles of deforestation]," said van Der Wahl. "But I think that streak has come to an end. Next year we're shooting for 12,000, but between you and me, I think it'll be more."
He then grabbed a can of Manatee fat and started oiling his chainsaw. Yep, Manatees are in the Amazon too.