The president elect appears to have given new lifeblood to Amazonian deforestation and environmental enemies, Brazilian or not. And yet defending the planet’s lungs affects all of us. Because it is on this that the future of our species depends.
If a good beginning makes a good ending, the Amazonian forest risks becoming an endless nightmare over the next year. He has not yet come to power, but the effects of electing Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil already appear visible. Or at least according to Greenpeace, which highlighted a considerable increase in deforestation over the last year. In September 2018 alone, at the height of the electoral campaign, 444 square kilometres of forest were legally razed to the ground, translating into an 84% increase with respect to September of the previous year. A total of 4859 square kilometres of forest disappeared in the first nine months of 2018. The highest level of deforestation for ten years.
And all carried out legally. And without taking into consideration the criminals who cut and sell trees “clandestinely” and who have reappeared in recent months, boosted by the words of a man who would go on to become Brazil’s president elect. It seems that Bolsonaro, as a good far-right populist leader, is not satisfied with just encouraging the lobbies that want to raze Amazonia to the ground to make room for motorways, endless farm land or space for the exploitation of resources as rare as they are precious.
No, Bolsonaro has loftier ambitions, or rather to dismantle the environment’s protective system. Bolsonaro has promised to remove protection in place for indigenous land, opening it up to exploitation; he has announced he wants to eliminate the Ministry for the Environment, merging it with that of Agriculture, and he has said he wants to remove international NGOs of the calibre of Greenpeace and WWF from the country. And then, like the cherry on the cake, he’s declared that he wants to follow in the footsteps of his American colleague Trump, pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. A move that would put the planet's lungs in grave danger, but also the world’s largest natural CO2 deposit that, without protection, could become that largest source of emissions. From natural ally to artificial enemy.
Woe betide us if we give up though. Amazonia is a precious resource, not only in terms of its habitat, biodiversity, oxygen and the food it provides to all species that live there, but also for the influence it has on the entire region. The amount of rain that falls across the entire South American continent is dependent on Amazonia. Even in those areas where intensive farming and breeding are already a reality, raking in millions for the multinationals, to the detriment of local communities.
So defending Amazonia is a collective goal, which should unite rather than divide. This was demonstrated by recent extreme weather events, from flooding to fires, which affected everyone, without “discrimination”, with no regard for the status or social class of the populations affected.
Greenpeace has no doubts: there’s no need to increase deforestation to tackle the population increase and, therefore, our dietary requirements. Brazilian farming production can be increased without the deforestation of more land. The “zero deforestation” target can be achieved by investing in traditional farming, or rather organic farming. Farming without pesticides or other substances that kill productivity, sterilise the soil and pollute the land. Quality farming that knows how to achieve, and above all maintain, an equilibrium between the forest and those who live there. Human beings included.