How Brazil's presidential election could eff up the planet for everyone
As the vast Brazilian rainforest steadily dwindles, so do our chances of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. And with the possible election of Jair Bolsonaro, the so-called âTrump of the Tropicsâ and far-right frontrunner in the Brazilian presidential election, a crucial part of the planetâs carbon emission-curbing toolkit might be in jeopardy.
Bolsonaro has indicated he may open Indigenous areas up to mining, even potentially introducing a paved highway through the Amazon. The environmental impact of those policies would be âthe biggest threat to the Amazon since Brazil was under a dictatorship,â said Doug Boucher, Scientific Advisor for The Union of Concerned Scientistsâ Tropical Forests and Climate Initiative. âItâs a threat to the climate of the entire planet.â
From 2005 to 2012, Brazilâs forests were doing alright. Deforestation decre ased by about two thirds under the Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula da Silva administration â" from 20,000 kilometers per year before Lula was elected to about 6,000 square kilometers per year. Since then, deforestation has basically remained at the same comparatively low levels, reducing Brazilâs CO2 emissions by more than half, according to Boucher.
Any shift in the countryâs administration could endanger that progress â" Presidential elections in Brazil tend to coincide with higher deforestation rates, regardless of the candidate. But Bolsonaroâs vision for handling environmental matters is uniquely jarring. Known for his homophobic, racist, and misogynistic views, the controversial politician also has a long track record of opposing an environmental agenda. Heâs against taking action on climate change at all, pledging to follow President Trumpâs lead by jettisoning the Paris Climate Agreement.
Bolsonaro has also made his views on race blatantly clear: He has criticiz ed the Brazilian governmentâs commitment to preserving vast swaths of the Amazon for Indigenous people, promising that he will ânot to give the Indians another inch of land.â Moreover, Bolsonaro has allied himself with the right-wing ruralista bloc, which represents the interests of agribusinesses and large landholders, and has been trying to strip away environmental protections against deforestation for many years.
Bolsonaroâs proposed environmental hit list goes on. He has promised to scrap the countryâs Environment Ministry altogether, putting it under the scope of the Agriculture Ministry, which is led by agribusiness.
âInstead of spreading the message that he will fight deforestation and organized crime, he says he will attack the ministry of environment, Ibama and ICMBio [Brazilâs federal environment agencies],â said Brazilâs current environment minister, Edson Duarte. âItâs the same as saying that he will withdraw the police from the street s.â
In many ways, Bolsonaro, an ex-army captain, seems to want to revert to the Amazonian policies that Brazil employed during the years of the South American nationâs dictatorship. At that time, during the â60s, â70s, and â80s, the country promoted rapid development of the Amazon, paving roads and converting the forests into farmland and ranchland.
As the global fight against catastrophic climate change ramps up, forests are a necessary front of the action. According to a dire, new report by the United Nationâs Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), halting deforestation could play a vital role in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as forests have a significant capacity to absorb and store carbon.
âWe have to take carbon dioxide basically out of the atmosphere in order to prevent a very dangerous increase in temperature, and major increases in floods, severe storms, and heat waves,â Boucher said. âThe best way we know t o take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere is to preserve and rebuild forests.âAnd protecting the last remnants of Brazilâs forests would go a long way. The country contains 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest â" by far the largest forest in the world â" which uptakes CO2 year-round due to its perpetually wet and warm climate.
This past week, Bolsonaro won the first round of Brazilâs presidential election by a near majority, and yet his success is not yet certain. He will face left-wing second-place finisher Fernando Haddad in the second round later this month.
âCivil society should keep the pressure up â" and they already are,â Boucher said. âWe have to watch and see what happens.âSource: Google News South Brazil | Netizen 24 Brazil