According to the World Wildlife Fund, the Amazon Rainforest covers about 40% of South America with 1.4 billion acres of dense forests and 4,100 miles of rivers. Despite being almost half the size of the continent, the rainforest is subject to many issues, including Poorly planned infrastructure, illegal an unsustainable natural resource extraction, extensive cattle ranching and agricultural expansion, and climate change.
About 60% of the country of Brazil is covered by rainforest (Meyer, 2010). Despite being covered in Rainforest, Brazil has a rich culture and is the fifth largest country in the world. However, how does the 5th largest country in the world handle its communications to the rest of the world when dealing with illegal logging of the Amazon Rainforest?
On January 1, 2019, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro was elected. In a 2018 article from The Washington Post, it is stated that Bolsonaro is a powerful supporter of agribusiness – one of the pillars of his political platform – and is likely to favor profits over preservation. He has called for a new, pro-business approach to exploiting Brazil’s natural resources, insisting that overzealous bureaucrats have harassed farmers for simply trying to make a living by carving out patches of jungle. To further that, he served notice to international nonprofit groups such as the World Wildlife Fund that he will not tolerate their agendas in Brazil and has also come out strongly against lands reserved for indigenous tribes.
Bolsonaro ran on a campaign fueled by the “Beef, Bullets and Bibles” political caucus of rural politicians who partnered with evangelicals and law-and-order candidates to build a forceful alliance in the country’s legislature (Walton, 2019). But why would he focus on this section to run on?
If you go back to one of Bolsonaro’s campaign pillars, he is a powerful supporter of agribusiness. He is enabling farmers to go in and burn the forests, allowing them to farm the land, and create business. However, this practice is illegal in Brazil because of a 1965 Law, the Brazilian Forest Code of 1965, which mandated that private landowners, depending on the state in which they lived, set aside between 20 and 80 percent of native forests and savannas on their rural properties as “legal reserves” (Asher, 2019). But Bolsonaro is determined to make this a space that can be used to bolster the economy of Brazil.
Below is a video put out by The New York Times in October 2019. In the video, Journalist Brent McDonald, ventures into the rainforest with a local Brazilian Union Leaders who states “We will preserve the Amazon. But we will preserve the Amazon for our needs. Not the needs of the world.”
This mentality will be the end of the Amazon rainforest as we know it. In a 2019 article from Globo, it is stated that the deforestation was up 88% in June, compared to the June in 2018 according to the Terra Brasilis system of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe). If we continue down this path, where will the world end up? If the Brazilian leadership ignores the global outcry to stop the deforestation what will happen? Is this an error in decoding the messages from president to farmers, or is this an issue between the president and people of Brazil and the world, a global communication crisis? Is he doing what’s best for his people over the good of the world?
Below is an excerpt from the Encyclopedia Britannica on what would happen to the world if we were to lose the Amazon rainforest:
Even though burning the Amazon won’t have an appreciable effect on oxygen levels, burning will add enormous amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which will further strengthen global warming and produce more severe climate changes. And there are other very serious long-term consequences to destroying Earth’s most biodiverse region. Burning away the Amazon would condemn millions of living species to extinction and destroy their habitats. Many of these plants, animals, and other forms of life haven’t even been identified by science yet. It is thought that consumption of the whole of the Amazon by fire would change the region from a thick multilayered forest to a savanna composed of scattered trees and tall grasses. While this change might appeal to livestock grazers and farmers (at least for a few years, until the nutrients of the rainforest’s thin soil are exhausted), it will put a jaw-dropping dent into the planet’s biodiversity. Although some hardy plants and animals would survive to become part of this new ecosystem, millions (possibly tens of millions) of species of insects and other invertebrates and thousands of species of plants and vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, and native and migrating birds) would not.
Anthony Faiola, M. L. (2018, October 28). Analysis | Who is Jair Bolsonaro, the man likely to be Brazil’s next president? Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/10/28/critics-are-afraid-jair-bolsonaro-heres-where-he-stands-issues/
Asher, C. (2019, July 18). Brazil’s New Forest Code puts vast areas of protected Amazon forest at risk. Retrieved from https://news.mongabay.com/2019/03/brazils-new-forest-code-puts-vast-areas-of-protected-amazon-forest-at-risk/
Fund, W. W. (n.d.). Amazon. Retrieved from https://www.worldwildlife.org/places/amazon
McDonald, B., & Times, T. N. Y. (2019, October 7). Meet the Ranchers Who Claim the Brazilian Amazon is Theirs to Burn | The Dispatch. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcJUSMiKQyY
Meyer, A. (2010). Rainforests of Brazil. Retrieved from https://www.brazil.org.za/rainforests-of-brazil.html
Moreno, A. C. (2019, July 3). Desmatamento na Amazônia em junho é 88% maior do que no mesmo período de 2018. Retrieved from https://g1.globo.com/natureza/noticia/2019/07/03/desmatamento-na-amazonia-em-junho-e-88percent-maior-do-que-no-mesmo-periodo-de-2018.ghtml
Rafferty, J. P. (n.d.). What Happens to Earth If the Amazon Rainforest Is Completely Burned? Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/story/what-happens-to-earth-if-the-amazon-rainforest-is-completely-burned
Walton, A. (2019, November 4). Why the Amazon Is Really on Fire – and Why It’s Going to Keep Burning. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vb5n54/why-the-amazon-is-really-on-fire-and-why-its-going-to-keep-burning