David Cleary

clearyDavid Cleary is the strategy director, agriculture for The Nature Conservancy. Cleary has a Ph.D. in anthropology from Oxford and taught at the University of Edinburgh, Cambridge University and Harvard University before joining the Conservancy a decade ago. He has lived in Brazil for 15 years and, as a soccer fanatic, is tormented by England's perennial football underachievement at the international level, although his wife is from Boston and the Red Sox provide him with a hopeful precedent.

David's Posts

Pristine Myths, Noble Savages and Conservation

August 31st, 2009

A couple weeks ago, after another of those planning meetings that take up so much time in the less-glamorous-than-you-might-think world of international conservation, I spent a day in one of the world’s great museums, Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology. A day in a great museum teaches you as much about conservation as a month […] More

What Should We Do About Beef From The Amazon?

July 20th, 2009

I spent a day a few weeks ago in São Paulo at the headquarters of a major Brazilian beef company — or, to put it another way, the cutting edge of tropical conservation. The image people have of conservationists in the tropics is often drawn from Indiana Jones films: intrepid biologists in the jungle swatting away mosquitoes […] More

The Peruvian Amazon Explodes…But Is Anyone Watching?

June 23rd, 2009

The death of at least 45 people in rioting between police and indigenous demonstrators in the town of Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon on June 5th was, among other things, a neat demonstration of what doesn’t count as news in the global village. (See video above of the clash from Enlace Nacional, a Peruvian news […] More

New U.S. Biofuels Policy: The View From Brazil

May 12th, 2009

Brazilians are realists when it comes to politics. We have dozens of political parties here — based not so much on ideology as personal networks, sectional interests and marriages of convenience. No president can command a working majority in the Brazilian Congress, so issues are resolved through wheeling and dealing, case by case. Brazilians view […] More

U.S.-Cuba Ties: How Will Cuban Crocodiles Fare?

April 23rd, 2009

Over the last week — as the Obama administration once again assumed its increasingly familiar role as polite undertaker at the funeral of a failed U.S. policy — it has become clear that a new phase in the long, intimate, but tormented, relationship between the United States and Cuba has begun. As the two countries flutter their diplomatic eyelashes […] More

A Free Carbon-Trading Area for the Americas, Part 2: Running the Numbers

April 6th, 2009

Last month I suggested a hemispheric dimension be added to the proposed U.S. cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, to allow U.S. companies to offset some of their emissions through projects in Latin America. This idea was picked up by the environmental blogs of The New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, while a report in The […] More

A Free Carbon-Trading Area of the Americas?

March 9th, 2009

Time was when the U.S. economy sneezed, Latin American economies keeled over from pneumonia or worse, but no longer. While not exactly immune from the economic turmoil in the United States, economies like Brazil and Mexico will suffer less and recover earlier. There is more than a little schadenfreude south of the border at seeing […] More

A Paradox from Hell: The Waiãpí and Carbon Markets

February 11th, 2009

The photo above shows the extraordinary way one can often trace the outline of indigenous reserves in the Amazon on satellite images: Total destruction outside reserve boundaries gives way to standing forest on the dividing line between indigenous and non-indigenous land. The image comes from the Waiãpí reserve in the Brazilian state of Amapá, in […] More

When Is a Rainforest Not a Rainforest?

February 2nd, 2009

Last Thursday’s New York Times published a fascinating article, “New jungles prompt a debate on rainforest,” where two well-known Smithsonian scientists traded interpretations about the meaning of regeneration of rainforests in Panama. Not the least of the issues the article raised was the climate around the Smithsonian office watercooler these days, as Drs. Joe Wright and […] More

The Upside of the Downslide

January 10th, 2009

On the “every-cloud-has-a-silver-lining” principle…..the Christmas and year-end period is the busiest time of year for fundraisers in the developed world, and in a couple of weeks conservation organizations across North America and Europe will be seeing in the New Year by looking at their final-quarter numbers for 2008. It’s unlikely to be a very festive […] More

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