Goodbye Rainforest

The Amazon's Shopping-Mall Boom

No longer victim to just loggers, Brazil’s rainforest is increasingly becoming fertile ground for a surprising new trend: shopping malls. The Wall Street Journal reports that the suburban staples are cropping up in cities in the Amazon rainforest. Five cities in Brazil’s Amazon area boast populations greater than 300,000, and four of the five largest cities will be home to a brand-spanking new American-style shopping mall by the end of 2011. The burgeoning consumer culture reflects Brazil's rising economic prosperity and the concerted efforts of government officials to lift the standards of Brazil's lower classes. The phenomenon also gives hardcore environmentalists less bargaining power, as they'll have to concede some to the demands of the new Amazon city-dwellers. Jorge Viana, an environmentalist and former governor, said, "Our biggest challenge is creating a model of sustainable economic development that includes the people who live in the forest."