There is little doubt that had the decision to drill not been taken, significant damage to the environment could have been avoided. A single hectare (2.47 acres) of the Yasuni national park contains more tree species than all of North America. Animal populations across the planet are 30% smaller now than in 1970, according to the UN environment program. In tropical regions such as Ecuador, the rate of decline is almost double the global average. By keeping the oil in the ground, 400 million tons of carbon dioxide could have been prevented from going into the atmosphere. Protecting Yasuní National Park would prevent another 800 million tons of carbon emissions. Add it all up, and that’s like preventing three years’ worth of Brazil’s total emissions.
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The decision comes as a major setback to environmentalists trying to protect one of the world's most biodiverse regions from development and pollution. The government claimed that the initiative it had launched to get international donors to pay Ecuador not to drill in the Yasuni did not successfully garner the amount the government would be forgoing in oil revenue from the area. The innovative campaign asked the world for donations totaling $3.6 billion (half of what the country would be forgoing by not drilling).
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