Luxury SUVs Are Causing A Terrible Side Effect

By Kristi Eckert | 6 months ago

luxury suvs

We know climate change is a big problem. We know that methane emission from cattle contributes to a build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We know that deforestation prevents trees from absorbing excess carbon dioxide which leaves more CO2 circulating in the air. However, what is lesser-known, is that these seemingly unrelated climate change perpetuators are more closely tied together the one would think. According to an investigation done by The New York Times leather in luxury SUVs are the common denominator between these two climate change exacerbates. 

The New York Times recently interviewed wealthy former rancher Odilon Caetano Felipe in Brazil. Felipe exclusively disclosed that he knowingly and willingly contributed to climate change in order to amass his wealth and he did so illegally. What’s more is that he revealed that his activities are much more commonplace in Brazil, specifically an area of the Amazon known as Jaci-Paraná, than one would care to think.

Felipe explained that before he sold off his cattle, he operated his ranch in a protected area of the Amazon that he illegally deforested himself (on land that he did not purchase, nor have the right to purchase) so that he could build his business. He went on to say that all of his cattle were purchased illegally and that he covered up his illegal transactions by creating a paper trail with the help of a middle-man. He raised the cattle, killed them, and sold their beef and hides for profit. All of this, while disturbing, is not what is most surprising. What is most surprising is that Felipe’s largest clients were some of the world’s leading luxury auto brands. He specifically mentioned General Motors, Ford, and Volkswagen. These countries often buy hundreds of pelts at a time to outfit their luxury SUVs with. 

One of the “middlemen” that Felipe alluded to is a company called Lear. Lear controls most of the leather that is exported out of Brazil and its largest clients are top automakers in the United States. Lear delivers the leather to automaker’s production plants so it can then be put into their luxury SUVs. One quantitative example comes out of data extracted from General Motors’ plant in Arlington, Texas where they outfit nearly 1300 Cadillac Escalades a day with leather purchased from Lear, and that figure is just one example of many.

What all of this information serves to show is that the wealthy’s lofty appetite for high-end luxury SUVs is helping to strip the world of one of its most beautiful and biodiverse treasures while at the same time partially fueling a rapidly worsening global climate crisis, and absolutely nothing is being done to stop it. Additionally, not only are these ranchers’ illegal activities directly contributing to serious climate issues, but their presence has been forcing out indigenous tribes who have inhabited the protected area for centuries. The situation is very reminiscent of one potentially brewing in Indonesia involving a small island tribe, the Indonesian government, Elon Musk, and SpaceX. The Indonesian government is currently trying to lure Musk into moving SpaceX onto the territory of the native tribe, which would effectively displace them and uproot them from the only way of life that they know.