The fate of the Amazon awaits in Brazil

Fact: The devastation of the Amazon

Deforestation of the Amazon’s life-giving rainforests has steadily increased since 2018. In 2017, 1,865 square kilometers of forest were felled, a figure that increased to 3,914 square kilometers the following year.

In 2019, the figure was even higher: 4,234 square kilometers – an area equivalent to Gästrikland. Felling also increased the following year to reach 7,715 square kilometers in 2021.

From the beginning of 2022 until August, 7,943 square kilometers of rainforest had been felled.

The number of forest fires that have occurred in the Amazon rainforest so far this year already exceeds the total number of fires last year. The information comes from the Brazilian space agency Inpe.

Satellite imagery shows that 75,592 fires have been detected up to 18 September.

Throughout 2021, 75,090 fires were detected by the satellite surveillance.

One cause of fires in the Amazon is land clearing, when forests are set on fire. Fires also often increase in number in August as the rainforest season becomes drier.

Sources: Inpe (National Space Research Institute of Brazil), Imazon and others.

The Amazon rainforests are being razed and burning, while the world watches. During Brazil’s right-wing nationalist president Jair Bolsonaro’s time in power, logging has reached new record levels. Outspoken climate skeptic Bolsonaro has encouraged logging and slash-and-burn agriculture, and so far this year alone, more forest fires — some 75,600 — have been reported than in all of 2021.

— If Lula wins, it could mean more power and more funds for environmental institutions and organizations, says Thaïs Machado Borges, Brazil expert and director of the Latin America Institute at Stockholm University.

Brazil’s incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro is aiming for a runoff.

A surface of Sörmland dimensions is razed

About 8,000 square kilometers of forest – an area almost as large as the province of Södermanland – was felled in the Amazon from the beginning of the year up to and including August, according to the local nature conservation organization Imazon. It is the highest figure in 15 years, reports the Brazilian newspaper O Globo.

— We have already passed the first half of the year and what we are seeing are repeated negative peaks of deforestation in the Amazon, with increased logging and a worsening situation for the forest environment. And unfortunately we can state that the measures to combat the problems are insufficient, says Bianca Santos, researcher at Imazon, to O Globo.

She continues:

— But if the environmental authorities act to protect the recently affected areas, we can prevent their complete destruction within the coming months.

The strong agricultural lobby

While the Bolsonaro government is undermining environmental policy, the political ring fox from the Workers’ Party, PT’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is making a grand comeback. After being out in the cold, he now draws large crowds at his election rallies around the country. Lula, who was the country’s president during the successful years 2003-2010, became embroiled in a wide-ranging political scandal that ended with his 2017 prison sentence on corruption charges.

So far this year, 7,943 square kilometers of forest have been cut down in the Amazon, an area two and a half times the size of Gotland.

After about 18 months in prison, he was released in 2019, and in 2021 all the sentences were annulled by the Supreme Court of Brazil. He himself calls the accusations a conspiracy.

Lula is doing very well according to the latest opinion polls ahead of the October 2 election. He has a clear advantage over the sitting president, who is now fighting tooth and nail to take home the game against all odds once again.

But even if Lula da Silva’s environmental policy is diametrically different from Bolsonaro’s, to say the least, exploitation-friendly, major battles will have to be fought if Lula wins the election.

— The powerful agricultural lobby, the forest lobby and others who have gained in the short term from the deregulations of recent years will be a big challenge for Lula, says Thaïs Machado Borges to TT.

Environmental issues not in focus

At the same time, it must be remembered that the local governors in the various states in Brazil have a certain autonomy, which means that they can make many of the environmental policy decisions themselves.

Brazil expert Thaïs Machado Borges, director of the Institute for Latin American Studies at Stockholm University.

However, for the majority of the electorate, environmental issues do not have any major importance in the election campaign, points out Thaïs Machado Borges. Economy, hunger, health, fighting violence, crime and corruption are still the most important election issues.

— It is only when environmental issues have concrete connections for Brazilians, such as breathing difficulties and tracheal problems as a result of the extensive forest fires, that they become important.

Brazil’s former president and presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at an event on sustainable development at the Amazon Museum in Manaus in August.

Source: by

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