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FBI Reform: Eurasia Review: Decimation Of The Rainforests And The Money Men – OpEd


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During August thousands of fires ravaged the Amazon rainforest in
Brazil and Bolivia. Some are still burning. In the wet ecosystem of the
rainforest fires are not a natural phenomenon, they are started by
people, mostly well-organized criminal gangs that profit from illegal
logging and land clearance.

Brazil’s right-wing President, Jain Bolsanaro, took office in
January; since then deforestation in the country has doubled, there have
been 87,000 fires in the Amazon, the highest number since 2010. Funding
to Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency, IBAMA, has been cut by
25%, including monies allocated for prevention and control of fires,
which was slashed by 23%, he has publicly attacked organizations working
to protect the rainforest, like Guardians of the Forest (made up of
indigenous people), and turned a blind eye to environmental crimes.

By dismantling “all the state organs that enforce environmental
protection,” Alfredo Sirkis, director of the Brazil Climate Center, says
Bolsonaro is inciting environmental crimes and facilitating
deforestation; through his words and deeds he is complicit in the
environmental crimes being perpetrated. A spokesman for Guardians of the
Forest told Human Rights Watch, “If we were to wait for the authorities
to act there will be nothing left.”

80,000 acres a day

The World’s rainforests are the lungs of the planet. They soak up
greenhouse gas emissions, affect wind currents and rainfall patterns and
produce the oxygen we need to survive. They provide habitat for
hundreds of animals, thousands of birds and tens of thousands of plants:
around 25% of modern pharmaceuticals are derived from ingredients found
in rainforests.

In 1950 they covered around 15% of the earth’s land surface, now, due
to intensive deforestation, it’s down to just 6%. According to
Scientific American, “most experts agree that we are losing upwards of
80,000 acres of tropical rainforest daily, and significantly degrading
another 80,000 acres every day on top of that. Along with this loss and
degradation, 135 plant, animal and insect species are disappearing every
day………as the forests fall.”

In 2015 the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) claimed that
“over the past 25 years the rate of net global deforestation has slowed
down by more than 50 percent”. However, the World Resources Institute
report that the trend has now reversed; 2018 “was the second-highest on
record for tree cover loss, down just slightly from 2016. The tropics
lost an area of forest the size of Vietnam in just the last two years.”
If this unimaginable level of carnage continues unabated it is feared
that in less than 40 years there will be none left.

The consequences of a world bereft of rainforests are too horrific to
contemplate, but one thing is clear: it would then be too late to do
anything meaningful about climate change and the environmental calamity
more broadly. Currently, deforestation and forest degradation rank as
the second highest cause of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, producing
around 15% of the total. As the children of the world have been rightly
demanding, radical action is needed now, not in twenty-five or thirty
years’ time, but now.

The causes of deforestation

There are various causes of deforestation; while logging is an issue,
particularly in Indonesia where 80 percent of timber exports are
illegal, the major cause is animal agriculture. Huge tracts of land are
cleared to graze cattle, grow feed for animals and for biofuels. Animal
agriculture is a principle cause of greenhouse gas emissions –
producing, the UNFAO say, 14.5% of the anthropogenic GHG emissions that
are driving climate change. It also uses approximately 70% of all
agricultural land, and is the primary cause of biodiversity loss, animal
extinction and water pollution. If deforestation and climate change are
to be tackled, reducing consumption of animal produce needs to be a
priority. This is something we can all do; it just requires commitment
and a sense of social/environmental responsibility.

A recent study into the impact of farming on the planet concluded
that “a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your
impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global
acidification, eutrophication [when a body of water becomes overly
enriched with minerals and nutrients which induce excessive growth of
algae], land use and water use…it is far bigger than cutting down on
your flights or buying an electric car,” it states, “as these only cut
greenhouse gas emissions.”

The research, which is the most comprehensive to date, found that
“beef cattle raised on deforested land result in 12 times more
greenhouse gases and uses 50 times more land than those grazing rich
natural pasture,” and states that producing 100g of beef “results in up
to 105kg of greenhouse gases, while tofu produces less than 3.5kg.”
Without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced
by 75% (an area equivalent to the US, China, the European Union and
Australia combined), the study states, and we could still feed everyone.

In response to this summer’s fires in the Amazon a coalition of
environmental groups came together, which included Friends of the Earth,
Action Network, Rainforest and Amazon Watch. They called for a Global
Day of Action for the Amazon and issued a damning statement to those
responsible for the destruction.

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro is, they made clear, primarily to
blame for the fires and the increase in deforestation since he took
office, due to his “regressive, and racist policies and his explicit
encouragement to ‘open the Amazon for business’.” But, it is
multinational companies that have created the “conditions for
profiteering at the expense of the lungs of the earth – and these same
companies are poised to profit further as today’s fires open up the door
for tomorrow’s plantations and ranches.” Behind deforestation is big
business and the multinational banks.

Global commodity traders are the “key drivers of deforestation in the
Amazon”; companies like Cargill, a US based agriculture corporation, or
JBS, an American food processing company, or Marfrig Global Foods, a
Brazilian beef producer, and, according to their website, “one of the
world leaders in the production of hamburgers, with processing capacity
of 232.000 tons per year”.

The products these companies make are sold by large-scale retailers
all over the world: E. Lecrerc has over 500 shops in France and 112
outside the country; Stop & Shop (the name says it all), a US
supermarket chain with 415 outlets; Costco, another American
conglomerate, and US mega corporation, Walmart, which has 11,389 stores.
Behind these corporations sit the moneymen. The key players are
BlackRock (an American investment management corporation); US investment
bank, JPMorgan Chase; Santander (Spanish Bank); BNP Paribas (French
Bank); HSBC (UK-based bank) and others. “These financiers not only
enable the destruction of our forests – they profit from it.”

The driving force

Behind the banks and corporate traders is the Neo-Liberal
socio-economic model; these powerful organizations operate within, and
are determined to uphold, the confines of its doctrine, they are driven
by the values and motives inherent in the Ideology of Money, and
demonstrate no concern for the natural world, or human well-being.

Together with the consumer society that it relentlessly promotes and
depends on, Neo-Liberalism, sits at the polluting heart of deforestation
and the wider interconnected environmental catastrophe. Under its
profit-bound ethos, everything is regarded as a commodity, everyone seen
as a consumer. Competition and division are inherent, selfishness and
greed, the antithesis to what is needed, are fostered.

Within the present construct and modes of living it is hard to see
how the necessary action to curb deforestation could be initiated. In an
attempt to limit the carnage, in 2008 the UN set up Redd (reduced
emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). A mechanism
through which developing countries are encouraged to improve forest
management and developed nations can contribute to a fund to facilitate
and support such schemes. It may contribute to encouraging conservation
and places a degree of responsibility, albeit voluntarily accepted, on
rich nations, but it will not stop deforestation.

A completely new approach to so-called development as part of far
reaching systemic change is urgently needed, together with a shift in
public attitudes: away from self-centered activity, competition, and the
aggrandizement of the individual and/or the nation state. Humanity is
one, individual but united. This essential fact needs to be recognized
and acted upon. Not as a vague philosophical or psychological
catchphrase, but as a principle of truth from which a new socio-economic
model can be created. One that serves the needs of all through sharing,
encourages simplicity of living, harmlessness and social/environmental
responsibility.

Eurasia Review

FBI Reform