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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/1/19

The UN Could Save the Amazon With One Simple Move

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From Truthdig


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The Amazon is burning. Nearly 75,000 fires have started in the iconic Brazilian rainforest this year to date, an 84 percent increase from the year before. 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.

Fires ravaging the Amazon pose imminent peril to the 34 million people and 3 million species of animals and plants that live in the world's largest rain-forest, which covers 2 million square miles.

Damage from the raging fires will change the face of the planet. The rain-forest is home to 10 percent of the species on Earth, including many types of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else.

"The loss of the Amazon's biodiversity will be beyond devastating for the planet," Dahr Jamail wrote in Truthout, noting that many scientists consider the Amazon to be the Earth's most important site of biodiversity.

"An International Crisis"

French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted, "Our house is burning. Literally," and exhorted, "Members of the G7 Summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days!" Bristling at Macron's exhortation, Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter, "The French president's suggestion that Amazon issues be discussed at the G-7 without participation by the countries in the region evokes a colonialist mentality that is out of place in the 21st century."

In light of Bolsonaro's refusal to provide resources to extinguish the fires, Macron threatened to block the Mercosur-European Union trade deal. Bolsonaro capitulated. He allocated $7 million and sent 44,000 troops and military aircraft to the burning areas.

But that falls short of what is needed to put out the fires and save the Amazon. "We're talking about battling what will be hundreds of fires burning simultaneously, beyond any road network, distributed across thousands of miles," according to Douglas Morton, head of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "It's quite a challenge to mobilize resources for one of these fires, but to simultaneously track down and put out a number of these sorts of fires " demands essentially a full press," adding, "You really do need thousands of people."

The countries in the G-7 the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada donated $20 million to help fight the fires, but Bolsonaro refused to accept the money unless Macron apologizes. Bolsonaro is playing games while the Amazon burns.

Donald Trump, who skipped the climate meeting at the G-7 summit, later said he hadn't agreed to contribute to the $20 million because of lack of coordination with Bolsonaro.

Moreover, even if accepted, this money would not be sufficient. Rick Swan, of the International Association of Fire Fighters, told The Washington Post that, by comparison, to extinguish the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Northern California, "the costs alone were $100 million."

In other words, a massive international effort is needed to end the Amazon fires.

Bolsonaro's Appeal to Anti-Colonial Politics Is Deeply Cynical

Those who are critical of ongoing colonial and neocolonial dynamics but who are not entirely familiar with the context of the fires in Brazil may at first be skittish about backing international efforts to pressure Bolsonaro to end the fires. In truth, however, Bolsonaro's appeal to anti-colonial politics is deeply cynical and should not deter progressives with anti-colonial commitments from backing international endeavors to end the fires.

The cynicism of Bolsonaro's anti-colonial appeal is evident in the context of widespread popular protests in which Brazilians have marched holding signs with messages, such as "The Amazon belongs to the world, and we need the world's help right now" and "SOS." Protesters took part in some 30 demonstrations across Brazil last weekend, and thousands of demonstrators marching in Rio chanted, "The Amazon stays, out with Bolsonaro."

Indigenous peoples in Brazil have also made clear that they hold Bolsonaro's government responsible for the destruction of the Amazon. The Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) issued a statement expressing "extreme concern about the rapid destruction of the Amazon rainforest, home to our families and to all the resources we need to live." COIAB stated, "The related record rates of deforestation and outbreaks of fire are a consequence of the anti-indigenous and anti-environmental genocidal speeches of this government."

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Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and a member of the National Advisory Board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. See  (more...)
 

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6 people are discussing this page, with 6 comments


Dennis Kaiser

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The UN is nothing more than a shill group of non-elected pompous a$$e$. If they were really concerned about human rights they would furiously reject all of the regime change "wars" we have imposed (we are presently bombing 7 different countries) plus was are killing innocent people through the uses of sanctions which are nothing more than economic bombs. Michelle Bachelet, the Chief of the UN's Human Right section, just wrote a report on Venezuela which all but ignored the effect of sanctions that killed over 40,000 citizens since 2017. Her report was even discredited by cohorts at the UN.

The results of these regime-change wars have been the deaths of millions and the devastation of these nations which are in far worse condition than before we illegally invaded them. Even with those results, the UN does not even charge the United States leaders as having committed crimes against humanity or war crimes, proving they are a worthless expense to the World.

Submitted on Sunday, Sep 1, 2019 at 5:51:16 PM

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Bob Stuart

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What we need now is a very swift conversion so that we can demand the sequestration of two grams of carbon for every one emitted by any human action or deliberate inaction.

Submitted on Sunday, Sep 1, 2019 at 6:38:00 PM

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shad williams

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The $20 million pledge by the G7 to put out fires in the Amazon says a 1000 words.

Submitted on Monday, Sep 2, 2019 at 8:30:37 AM

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Lou Pintada

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Uh, what about the fires in Indonesia? in central Africa? in Siberia? and next year in the western US?


Do you recommend a world wide raking program? Vacuuming?


It's time to stop consuming, stop flying, stop driving, just stop! Oh, and maybe the mad orangutan should not make it impossible for China to buy US soybeans.



Submitted on Monday, Sep 2, 2019 at 4:54:55 PM

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JeanSC

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I agree with this article and what it proposes. I can't afford to buy much now, but I can choose to boycott Brazilian products where I can see the country of origin. Bolsonaro's protests about "colonial" attitudes of other countries is ludicrous. Brazil itself is a political descendant of its Portuguese colonizers, and is still trying to live as if the non-indigenous people are still in Portugal, a country whose ecosystems are entirely different than any in Brazil. Some comments here are off-topic and nasty and I plan to flag them.

Submitted on Monday, Sep 2, 2019 at 8:09:46 PM

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David Wieland

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There's an alarming level of misinformation driving this latest panic. On the other hand, such misreporting seems to be the norm now. For a less fevered and closer look at what's happening in the Amazon, Michael Shellenberger's article is a no-hype, to-the-point source. You don't have to be a fan of Bolsonaro to recognize how unhinged some of the commentary is. The UN should stay out of it; the Amazon doesn't need "saving", just use that considers conservation.

Submitted on Tuesday, Sep 3, 2019 at 6:33:19 AM

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