“Brazil First” Is Destroying the Country – and the Planet
Find out what you can do to combat this important issue
A record high of 73,000 fires have been recorded in Brazil this year, mostly in the Amazon. That’s nearly double the number in 2018. Since Thursday, almost 10,000 new fires have started. As a result, the world just lost more than 750,000 hectares, or 1.8 million acres, of vibrant, life-sustaining forest.
This isn’t just bad luck. These fires are man-made. This is the time of year farmers use fire to clear land, often to raise beef cattle and grow export crops. But there isn’t a safe way to do this, causing fires to spread uncontrollably. And much of the land being cleared is in the Amazon and other forested areas. All with a far-right, anti-conservation, nativist “Brazil First” President, Jair Bolsonaro, completely indifferent towards the crisis. He has even gone so far as to say, “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame.” Does anyone else get the vibe that he’s neck deep in toxic masculinity?
Since elected, Bolsonaro has drastically curtailed what government agencies can do to protect the rainforest. What kind of person does that?? Even worse, earlier this week, documents were leaked showing Bolsonaro’s insidious plans to “isolate minorities of the Amazon” through his hateful, Trump-like rhetoric full of xenophobia and fear-mongering. And it doesn’t stop there. The Bolsonaro government not only doesn’t care about the fires, it also has plans to implement aggressive takeovers of parts of the rainforest to prevent conservation projects, expand agriculture, and promote other industries in this environmentally fragile area.
Why would he want to do that? Great question. According to information obtained by democraciaAbierta (Open Democracy), the Brazilian government believes it is fighting for its national sovereignty over the Amazon, against an undefined group of foreign and domestic agents, including pro-conservation NGOs and indigenous rights organizations, who are engaged in some kind of “psychological operations” against the Brazilian people. So Trump is not the only nut-job conspiracy theorist in charge of a major world power. And now this nut-job conspiracy theorist is the caretaker of a region that’s been called the planet’s lungs.
This accelerating loss of rainforest is devastating for efforts to combat global warming, with the fires now releasing huge amounts of carbon where the rainforest had been absorbing it. There’s now a layer of smoke easily visible from space that’s 1.2 million square miles wide. And once cleared, burned, and denuded, that lost rainforest – those beautiful lungs of our planet – will not be coming back. And we alo must not forget the numerous indigenous groups living in the Amazon who are losing their homes.
This is a body blow to Brazil, and to the world at large. If the Amazon goes up in flames, it is “game over” for climate change. Find out what you can do to help below:
Because knowledge really is power! Read more articles on the issue, on why President Bolsonaro doesn’t give a crap about it, and on all of the other factors that contribute to deforestation, too. The more you know, the better you are equipped to speak out. International pressure helps, and we all can contribute to that. InfoAmazonia is a great resource.
As consumers, we have a lot more power than we think. Brazil depends heavily on exports, much of it to the EU and the U.S. Until the government changes its policies, don’t buy Brazilian products, especially beef. For that matter, don’t eat beef at all, it’s a huge contributor to climate change.
The more we recycle, the fewer trees are chopped down. And if you buy wood products, ask where they come from. Wood from Brazil? No, thank you!
There are numerous charities working on the ground, including in Brazil, to help address the crisis. These include but are not limited to:
like don’t negotiate a trade deal with Brazil as the Amazon is burning. Most of our readers live in the U.S. and the UK, both of which have strong economic ties to Brazil. If enough of us let our elected officials know that their constituents view Bolsonaro’s policies as a vital problem for the entire world, it could help convince those at the top to use their economic and political clout to put pressure on the Bolsonaro government. For better or worse, governments will do a lot to keep trade flowing. In this case, it could help convince Bolsonaro to change his policies. Fingers crossed: this shit’s got to stop.