My goal is to address a Climate Change Issue every Tuesday. I hope I can shed a little light here and there. If you find my posts informative or enjoyable, please subscribe to the blog. It’s an ego thing.
So, let’s talk Brazil.
Jair Bolsonaro is Brazil’s current president. J.B. is right wing and a member of the Socialist Liberal party, and no, there is nothing liberal about the Socialist Liberal party. Think of him as a Trump with a sexy accent. He’s one of the right wing authoritarian types that our president appears to favor over most, if not all, of our European allies.
Some highlights on J.B. :
1. He is a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage and homosexuality, abortion, and affirmative action.
2. He hates secularism, thank God (just kidding atheist snowflakes).
3. He favors close relation with the U.S. and Israel.
4. He’s pro-market, meaning less government regulation and more business freedom.
5. He’s a far-right populist.
Here’s a fun fact that I think some people don’t know: Populism is a political attempt to appeal to your average Jane and Joe who don’t feel like those elite politicians are addressing their concerns. For 10 bonus points, name the leader of a democratic power who recently got elected by ordinary Jane’s and Joe’s who thought their concerns were being ignored by the elite.
Brazil has been a democracy for almost 35 years. Yay! Before that, it was a military dictatorship. Boo! President J.B. has a record of admiring the military dictatorship over the democracy. He routinely praises other military dictatorships in Latin American countries.
For 20 bonus points, name another leader of a democratic nation that admires military dictatorships.
To be fair, as president, J.B. says we should stop criticizing military dictatorships and start praising democracies. Good for J.B.
That’s who’s running Brazil at the moment. Now, let’s talk about the Amazon jungle and the manmade fires.
The Amazon jungle/forest/whatever is said to supply 20% of the world’s oxygen. Some people may disagree with this statement. (For example, trees give off carbon dixoide as well as oxygen, so what’s the net contribution). What everyone can agree on is that the Amazon acts as a massive safe deposit box for carbon. The trees trap a shitload of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. For example, when you burn one tree in the Amazon, you are releasing carbon into the atmosphere. And not just carbon, but a lot of carbon, comparatively speaking. Compared to what? Great question and I’m glad you asked. (As every politician who has ever appeared in a town hall has said at least 7 times an hour). The rainforest absorbs almost three times the amount of carbon as as other forests. So, thank God for the Amazon jungle. It’s a shame we’re burning it down.
The Amazon has been on fire for more than a month now. The amount of fires in the Amazon this year is up 85% from last year. While you are reading this, there have been around 80,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon to date. As I write this post there are around 2,500 active fires. Smoke has covered half of Brazil, and Brazil is a big place. Picture the biggest Walmart you’ve ever seen, now double it. Brazil is even bigger!
Those fires kill indigenous people, burn their villages to the ground, and kill and threaten thousands of animal species. AND they release a shitload of carbon into the air. If you’ve read a news article or two in the last five years, you know that carbon released into the atmosphere acts like a blanket covering the earth. Heat from the sun pummels the earth by day, and then at night, the earth releases the heat back into the atmosphere where much of it disappears into space. Think of heating a rock in a fire. The rock heats up. When the fire goes out the rock releases heat into the atmosphere until it is cool. Good analogy right? I know! Now, because of man made carbon, generated by fossil fuels and, you know burning down rainforests, the heat doesn’t get to disappear in the atmosphere and the soothing cold void of space. Instead, it gets reflected back down to the earth. Now the earth is heating by day and when the sun goes down, much of the earth’s heat stays where it is instead of going where it’s supposed to go. The end result is people making Jiffy Pop on their car hoods, seas rising from ice melt and warm water expansion, changes in the gulf stream which lead to drastic changes in weather patterns and all sorts of nasty stuff.
It’s like the circle of life, except for the life part. As the number of fires increase, greenhouse gas emissions increase. This makes the planet you live on hotter. When the planet gets hotter, you see things like major droughts more often. Droughts make things dry. Dry things burn and we get better and bigger fires. You see Simba, the fire burns the trees. The Trees release the carbon, The atmosphere gets hotter. The heat makes more fires, and we cook in the fire.
All this is my way of confirming that burning down the Amazon is a bad idea, if you think rising seas and drastic and unpredictable weather patterns are a bad idea.
So, who thinks starting forest fires is a good idea? Farmers and President J.B. Farmers and ranchers start the fires to make room for farming and ranching. Boo! These practices are supported by J.B. Remember that free market attitude of his? That means what’s good for business is good for Brazil. And business mistakenly believes that burning down the Amazon is good.
By the way, the only reason we’re talking about the month long spike in fires is because of social media hashtaging the entire disaster and making millions and millions of people aware of this tragedy. So thank’s #hashtagsrock!
The good news is that there are ways the world can pressure Brazil to behave more responsibly, environmental wise. World leaders can boycott Brazilian beef, for example. Or at least openly condemn JB’s tacit approval on the firestorms of 2019. The leader of the free world, for example, could call on Brazil to do the right thing.
Unfortunately, that leader happens to be Trump. And he is not speaking out against JB’s policy of slash and burn with either a carrot or a stick. In fact, Trump has done just the opposite. He just tweeted that the U.S. had reached a deal to sell Brazil corn that they will convert to ethanol. (Corn ethanol is a bad idea, but that’s a story for another blog). While a few countries have called for boycotts against Brazil, the leader of the free world is more interested in entering into a bi-lateral trade agreement with Brazil.
The effect of such a deal is uncertain for our farmers. We’ll have to see if it even comes close to setting off the pain of tariffs against our produce from China. What it does do, is give Brazil comfort in knowing that if a few countries boycott trade, it can always turn to the U.S. to take up the slack. JB doesn’t have to worry about Finland saying no to Brazilian Beef if the U.S. is saying yes. And that is what we are doing. We are therefore complicit in encouraging the burning of the Amazon.
This is disappointing but not surprising. Trump has a hard-on for dismantling trading blocs like the EU and engaging in bilateral trade agreements with individual nations. That’s why, for example Boris Johnson over in the UK is willing to dress up like Trump and even wear the wig. He knows Brexit is going to create a shitstorm for the UK and that a trade deal with the U.S. will help take the sting out of losing the trade deals with the EU. (The problem is that Trump will never be able to deliver on any such trade agreement that will require House approval).
Despite Trump’s delusional claim that he is an environmentalist, it’s undisputed that he has pulled out of the Paris Climate Treaty, severely weakened the power of the EPA, removed many restrictions on the use of poisons, polluting our waterways and protections of public lands. He is on record stating Climate Change is a Chinese Hoax and he has privately floated the idea of using nuclear weapons to contain hurricanes.
At this point in time, when we can all see that the effects of Climate Change are here, and the need to address said effects, we have a president who pretends nothing is happening.
In a normal world.