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Research & Thoughts

History Lesson #10: Who Can Save The Amazon Rainforest?

According to The Week on 6/6/21 (p.21), parts of the Amazon now emit more carbon dioxide than they clean. In the past, the Amazon has been considered the "lungs" of the world, soaking up emissions that otherwise powered climate change. This was also reported on CNBC.com.


Today it pumps out 1.1 billion tons of carbon per year, mostly from the deliberately set forest fires meant to clear land for beef and soy production (sorry vegans, you're at fault, too).  This reduces overall rainfall, which increases the risk of fires.


One researcher, Luciana Gatti, from whom the report came, noted: "We need a global agreement to save the Amazon."


Unfortunately, the only global agreement could come out of the U.N., which seems hampered by ineffectiveness of late. This was said as early as 2019 by the Independent Media Institute noting the number of fires there (see photo).  They wrote:


"August 2019 stands out because it has brought a noticeable increase in large, intense, and persistent fires burning along major roads in the central Brazilian Amazon," according to the space agency. "While drought has played a large role in exacerbating fires in the past, the timing and location of fire detections early in the 2019 dry season are more consistent with land clearing than with regional drought." Much of the Amazon's land clearance is to satisfy the world's taste for meat: 91 percent of its deforestation since 1970 is due to cattle ranching, according to the World Bank.


Back at you, meat lovers. No one needs meat more than once a day, if even that.  


Truthdig.com confirms that in 2019:


Since August 10, a spate of intentionally set fires have been raging in the Amazon. But Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, let them burn for two weeks before sending firefighters to put them out following an international outcry.


On August 22, 2019 the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, wrote that the U.N. must act to protect the Amazon from those fires, but Bolsonaro said they were interfering with Brazil's sovereignty -- cries of neocolonialism.


How can the UN help? There's this:


"As empowered by the United Nations Charter, the Security Council should find that the fires in the Amazon pose a 'threat to the peace' and order measures to restore and maintain international peace and security. Those measures 'may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations,'" she writes. "The Council should require that member states refrain from entering into trade agreements with Brazil unless and until it agrees to allow international economic and physical firefighting assistance."


Their link contains a place to sign a petition to be sent to the U.N.  Go here. https://independentmediainstitute.org/united-nations-amazon-rainforest-fires/


And Truthdig noted this:


All UN member countries are bound by the resolutions of the Security Council. Article 25 of the Charter says, "The members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council." And Article 49 states that the UN members "shall join in affording mutual assistance in carrying out the measures" upon which the Council decides.


Why hasn't the United Nations acted against Brazil? It's odd that no action has been taken, as the Amazon actually spans nine South American Countries. There is simply no place else on earth like it. It has, for instance, 41 different plants that can treat malaria. It is -- or was -- known to play a crucial role in stabilizing world rainfall. And if we take a look around the world, that has become pretty unstable lately, thanks to far right politics of that Brazilian leader.


But he has apparently convinced others. On June 4, 2020, the U.N. put out this statement from a representative of Colombia:


The United Nations has observed World Environment Day on 5 June every year since 1974. In recognition of its high level of biodiversity, Colombia will host the 2020 celebration with the purpose of highlighting the role of nature for every citizen of the planet and to underline the importance of making the right decisions at this crucial moment, when the world's nations are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.


As part of its commitment to the planet, we will also host the Third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. It will be a unique opportunity for the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to negotiate a global framework and to reiterate their commitments under the Convention.


This is the time to recognize once again that nature offers incalculable benefits for people and society. Therefore, we must provide greater benefits through livelihoods. Recovery from the coronavirus pandemic must go hand in hand with fostering sustainable growth and honouring international environmental commitments, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.


But not a word on the Amazon. In other words, to read between the lines here, human recovery trumps nature.


Oh, in this week's "The Week" we find that Bolsonaro is pulling a "trump." He warns that the next election looks like it'll be fraudulent. But he's running at poll rating of only 23% compared to his rival. He is threatening to cancel elections if changes to voting aren't made. The trump effect continues and here is another who let the virus rage, killing 557,000 Brazilians. No wonder they want him gone.





The Week, August 13, 2021, p. 10

Truthdig.com https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-un-could-save-the-amazon-with-one-simple-decree/

CNBC.com https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/15/amazon-rainforest-now-releasing-more-carbon-than-it-absorbs-study.html 

Global Landscape Forum.org https://www.globallandscapesforum.org/glf-news/as-fires-sear-amazon-rainforests-u-n-secretary-general-urges-protection/. 

Nature and Culture.org https://natureandculture.org/ecosystems/amazon-rainforest/.  This site will take donations to protect the rainforest, but I'm not sure anything can help until that president is gone.

U.N.org "The Transformative Change We Need to Live in Harmony with Nature," https://www.un.org/en/un-chronicle/title 

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