Category Archives: Amazon rain forest

Kiss the Amazon Rainforest Goodbye

Photo:  Rainforest Trust

As of September 29th, Brazil’s Bolsonaro government has fired the civilian-run National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which has monitored the Amazon rainforest for the past three decades. INPE is being replaced (drumroll please) by the Brazilian military as the new watchdog over the world famous rainforest. Voila, worldwide concerns about deforestation are… ah… indeterminate, vague, unspecified.

All along, the spectacularly bountiful rainforest has increasingly come under heavy attack and definitively at risk of turning into a degraded savannah. A warning put forward by world-renowned Amazonian scientist Carlos Nobre, as two powerfully destructive assaults are simultaneously underway: (1) global warming is pounding the rainforest repeatedly every 5 years, ever since 1998, with severe droughts lumberingly reinforced by (2) massive deforestation (cutting down and burning trees) for commercial logging, farming, and mineral exploitation.

Right before the eyes of the world the most legendary rainforest on the planet goes up in smoke (See previous article: “Brazil’s 63,000 Fires”, September 8, 2020).

Brazil’s vice president Hamilton Mourão, a retired general, announced, as of September 29th, creation of a new agency with “full authority over Amazon deforestation and fire monitory satellite alerts.” As mentioned above, the new agency is now in charge of collecting and analyzing scientific data for 60% of South America’s rainforest.

A telltale indicator to this sudden change of guard took place almost one year ago when science minister Marcos Pontes fired the former chief of the INPE agency Ricardo Galvão, August of 2019, over a public disagreement with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on the validity of data about deforestation. According to Bolsonaro, the data had been altered to attack his government. In response, Galvão labeled the president “a coward.”

In response to Galvão’s release, Philip Fearnside, an ecologist at INPE, informed Eos news that “deforestation under Bolsonaro is exploding.” He already “had done a tremendous amount of damage in the environmental area just in 7 months… things are falling apart very quickly.”1

Carlos Nobre, who worked at INPE for 35 years and who is currently senior researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo indignantly commented:

If deforestation exceeds 20-25% of the Amazon, calculations indicate the region will turn into a degraded savannah.2

Along those lines, according to INPE data, since 1970: “Forest cover as a percent of pre-1970 cover” equals 82.7%. 3  Hmm.

Using words reserved for cat fighting, Bolsonaro informed complaining European countries in 2019 to mind their own business because “they have already destroyed their own environment,” as he claimed his own government’s satellite data showing an alarming rise in deforestation as “lies.”4

Bolsonaro went on to say he was “fulfilling a mission from God.”

He also sharply criticized foreign press for complaining about his plans to open up indigenous reserves to mining, stating that the press lacked respect for human rights of Brazil’s indigenous people:

You want the indigenous people to carry on like prehistoric men with no access to technology, science, information, and the wonders of modernity. Indigenous people want to work, they want to produce and they can’t. They live isolated in their areas like cavemen. What most of the foreign press do to Brazil and against these human beings is a crime. 2

During America’s presidential debate, candidate Joe Biden commenting about Brazil, said Trump had “no relationship with foreign policy… The rainforest of Brazil are being torn down.” He suggested a solution:

I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t then you’re gonna have significant economic consequences.5

Bolsonaro responded to Biden’s jab: “What a shame. Mr. John (sic) Biden! What a shame!”2

Indeed, what a shame that Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is within reach of turning into a degraded savannah.

  1. “Ousted Head of Science Agency Criticizes Brazil’s Denial of Deforestation Data”, Eos, 20 August 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Calculating Deforestation Figures for the Amazon”, Mongabay, January 4, 2020.
  4. Bolsonaro Declares ‘the Amazon is Ours’ and Calls Deforestation Data ‘Lies’, The Guardian, July 19, 2019.
  5. “Brazil’s Bolsonaro Slams Biden for ‘Coward Threats’ Over Amazon”, US News, September 30, 2020.

The post Kiss the Amazon Rainforest Goodbye first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Kiss the Amazon Rainforest Goodbye

Photo:  Rainforest Trust

As of September 29th, Brazil’s Bolsonaro government has fired the civilian-run National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which has monitored the Amazon rainforest for the past three decades. INPE is being replaced (drumroll please) by the Brazilian military as the new watchdog over the world famous rainforest. Voila, worldwide concerns about deforestation are… ah… indeterminate, vague, unspecified.

All along, the spectacularly bountiful rainforest has increasingly come under heavy attack and definitively at risk of turning into a degraded savannah. A warning put forward by world-renowned Amazonian scientist Carlos Nobre, as two powerfully destructive assaults are simultaneously underway: (1) global warming is pounding the rainforest repeatedly every 5 years, ever since 1998, with severe droughts lumberingly reinforced by (2) massive deforestation (cutting down and burning trees) for commercial logging, farming, and mineral exploitation.

Right before the eyes of the world the most legendary rainforest on the planet goes up in smoke (See previous article: “Brazil’s 63,000 Fires”, September 8, 2020).

Brazil’s vice president Hamilton Mourão, a retired general, announced, as of September 29th, creation of a new agency with “full authority over Amazon deforestation and fire monitory satellite alerts.” As mentioned above, the new agency is now in charge of collecting and analyzing scientific data for 60% of South America’s rainforest.

A telltale indicator to this sudden change of guard took place almost one year ago when science minister Marcos Pontes fired the former chief of the INPE agency Ricardo Galvão, August of 2019, over a public disagreement with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on the validity of data about deforestation. According to Bolsonaro, the data had been altered to attack his government. In response, Galvão labeled the president “a coward.”

In response to Galvão’s release, Philip Fearnside, an ecologist at INPE, informed Eos news that “deforestation under Bolsonaro is exploding.” He already “had done a tremendous amount of damage in the environmental area just in 7 months… things are falling apart very quickly.”1

Carlos Nobre, who worked at INPE for 35 years and who is currently senior researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo indignantly commented:

If deforestation exceeds 20-25% of the Amazon, calculations indicate the region will turn into a degraded savannah.2

Along those lines, according to INPE data, since 1970: “Forest cover as a percent of pre-1970 cover” equals 82.7%. 3  Hmm.

Using words reserved for cat fighting, Bolsonaro informed complaining European countries in 2019 to mind their own business because “they have already destroyed their own environment,” as he claimed his own government’s satellite data showing an alarming rise in deforestation as “lies.”4

Bolsonaro went on to say he was “fulfilling a mission from God.”

He also sharply criticized foreign press for complaining about his plans to open up indigenous reserves to mining, stating that the press lacked respect for human rights of Brazil’s indigenous people:

You want the indigenous people to carry on like prehistoric men with no access to technology, science, information, and the wonders of modernity. Indigenous people want to work, they want to produce and they can’t. They live isolated in their areas like cavemen. What most of the foreign press do to Brazil and against these human beings is a crime. 2

During America’s presidential debate, candidate Joe Biden commenting about Brazil, said Trump had “no relationship with foreign policy… The rainforest of Brazil are being torn down.” He suggested a solution:

I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t then you’re gonna have significant economic consequences.5

Bolsonaro responded to Biden’s jab: “What a shame. Mr. John (sic) Biden! What a shame!”2

Indeed, what a shame that Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is within reach of turning into a degraded savannah.

  1. “Ousted Head of Science Agency Criticizes Brazil’s Denial of Deforestation Data”, Eos, 20 August 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Calculating Deforestation Figures for the Amazon”, Mongabay, January 4, 2020.
  4. Bolsonaro Declares ‘the Amazon is Ours’ and Calls Deforestation Data ‘Lies’, The Guardian, July 19, 2019.
  5. “Brazil’s Bolsonaro Slams Biden for ‘Coward Threats’ Over Amazon”, US News, September 30, 2020.

The post Kiss the Amazon Rainforest Goodbye first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Brazil’s 63,000 Fires

Amazon Day, a day of celebration for over 100 years on September 5th, has passed. Amazon Day commemorates the year 1850 creation of the Province of Amazonas, encompassing 60% of Brazil and extending into Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, and French Guyana.

Meanwhile, illegal fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rage on, and on, and on stronger than ever. Nowadays, in spite of the spirit of Amazon Day, suicidal spates of lawlessness rule Brazil’s precious rainforest.

Indeed, leading scientists believe there is genuine concern that the Amazon rainforest ecosystem could collapse. Already, severe devastating drought sequences have hit every fifth year like clockwork so closely spaced together that normal regrowth does not happen. Thus, the ecosystem is inordinately weakened in the face of human-generated firestorms, further weakening this beleaguered ecosystem.

As substantiated by NASA, the rainforest doesn’t react like it used to. It does not have enough time between droughts to heal itself and regrow. Throughout all of recorded history, this has never been witnessed before, a fact that is horribly concerning and downright depressing. 1

Not only is an ecological breakdown apparent above ground, the breakdown is also found underground. Based upon current images by NASA’s GRACE satellite, the Amazon is in tenuous condition in an unprecedented state of breakdown. The GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On) satellite system monitors water levels stored deep beneath Earth’s surface. GRACE’s images detected large areas in what’s classified as “Deep Red Zones,” meaning severely constrained water levels. Nothing could be worse.

Furthermore, the peak rainy season, which runs from December to February, was among the top 10 worst on record this year, with just 75% of the season’s usual rainfall.

Additionally, and of consequential concern, the world’s two leading Amazon rainforest scientists made a startling announcement only recently: Thomas Lovejoy (George Mason University) and Carlos Nobre (University of Sao Paulo) reported:

Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.2

Tipping points define equilibrium between life and death.

Furthermore, it is important for world opinion to realize that raging fires are not normal in rainforests, which contain tons of wetness, dripping moisture, and cool air. In fact, even during normal dry seasons, if a fire starts in the undergrowth, it peters out quickly because of extreme wetness throughout rainforests, a moniker that perfectly describes the ecosystem… “rain… forest.”

Not only are fires an aberration under normal conditions, but also deforestation, which brings on the fires in the first instance, is illegal, especially in Brazil. Yet, deforestation is rampant with massive fires as part of the clearing process. It’s highly probable that nearly all 63,000 fires for the current year are the result of illegal deforestation.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, it committed to eliminating all illegal deforestation — which, according to Human Rights Watch, accounts for 90 percent of all deforestation — in the Amazon by 2030.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) monitors and reports on the fires, 63,000, and still counting for the year 2020.3

The Amazon contains the world’s most precious natural heritage, teeming with the richest biodiversity on the planet, including break-thru medicinal resources, many not yet discovered, and most importantly, serving as the single most significant global climate regulator. Without the Amazon, life throughout the world turns miserable, beyond wildest imagination, like a Stephen King horror movie.

Yet, it is burning, and it is unnecessary, and it is mostly illegal.

After all, the world can get by “just fine” without burning down the most precious resource on the planet in order to grow palm oils and soy and cotton and to raise cattle and dig for gold and oil and logging. But, the world cannot get by “just fine” with a crippled rainforest. That’s happening right now smack dab in front of the world’s eyes closed wide shut.

According to Rainforest Alliance, Brazil’s government knowingly looks the other way. As such, President Jair Bolsonaro deflects international criticism, going so far as to say that environmental NGOs start the fires to make his administration look bad. It’s obvious that he’s reading, and likely memorized, Trump’s playbook.

World leaders, like France’s Macron, have called him out in the past, but Bolsonaro merely flips ‘em the bird. He’s living proof that mean-spiritedness, as it originates via purest of ignorance, goes a long way towards deflecting criticism. For proof, the international community has done nothing substantive to stop the illegal fires.

Bolsonaro wins as the world loses.

And, abiding by the precepts of the Trump playbook, in an address to the UN, he said, “the Amazon remains pristine and virtually untouched,” claiming that Brazil is “one of the countries that protects its environment the most.” At the time of his speech, the Amazon rainforest was burning at record rates and illegal deforestation had surged by 84% following his inauguration.

In his UN speech, Bolsonaro especially heaped praise on U.S. President Donald Trump for supporting him, even as he was under fire by the international community.

Meanwhile, because of excessive global warming, climate change has turned up its intensity way-way-way beyond the models of climate scientists as registered with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). From Antarctica to the Arctic, the climate system is out-of-control, including the all-important life-supporting integrity of the Amazon Rainforest.

Sadly, the facts are indisputable based upon numerous scientific reports; the world climate system is literally coming apart at the seams as excessive usage of fossil fuels spews CO2 that blankets the atmosphere that retains more and more heat that undermines the world’s major ecosystems. Given enough time, society has an insurmountable problem, like right now.

Look to Siberia, the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, Australia, and the Amazon Rainforest for incontestable evidence. Meanwhile, severe droughts haunt the world from the Amazon to the Middle East (900-yr drought) to Australia (800-yr drought), throughout SE Asia to all of Central America (“the Dry Corridor”), to a 10-year mega drought-turned-desertification in central Chile to a massive 60-yr drought in Brazil, to totally dried-out to-a-crisp portions of Africa, t0 China’s Lancang River (the Danube of the East) at 100-yr low water levels in Thailand where it streams, and the list could go on and on.

In turn, eco migrant footsteps follow in kind, kindling rightwing politics throughout the world.

All of which prompts the obvious query: Will the nations of the world never seriously coordinate efforts to combat fossil fuel-generated global warming with its deadly accomplice, abrupt climate change?

Notably, it’s already started everywhere nobody lives.

Mercy!

  1. “NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage”, NASA Earth Science News Team, August 9, 2018.
  2. “Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action”, Science Advances, Vol. 5, no. 12, December 20, 2019.
  3. “Brazil: Alarming Number of New Forest Fires Detected Ahead of Amazon Day”, Amnesty International, September 3, 2020.

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The World on Fire  

Massive uncontrolled unprecedented wild fires are consuming portions of the Amazon rainforest and several regions of the Arctic. Somebody somewhere must be asking why all of a sudden in unison, all over creation, two of the planets largest ecosystems are going up in smoke. It’s eerily spine chilling.

Major fires have hit the Amazon and the Arctic for the second year in a row.1

Where’s the world’s largest fire alarm when so desperately needed?

Sure, all of mainstream press covers the fires and people hear about the fires and read about the fires. But that’s the end of any sort of impact because the sensationalism of reading about and hearing about massive fires thousands of miles away in vast wilderness areas doesn’t move the needle enough for people to express serious concern or even go so far as to panic. Maybe they should.

These are not regular ole run of the mill fires. Rather, these are firestorms so powerful that they create their own wind systems and self-perpetuate. More to the point, the world is on a biblical fire alert that posits the Book of Revelations 16:8 smack dab into contemporary society, to wit: Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the Sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire, and men were scorched with great heat.

For example, recent bushfires in Australia (2019) were not just unprecedented. They were “deadly catastrophic,” thus leaving some ecosystems “forever changed.” The conflagrations obliterated landscapes, not just patches of landscape but entire landscapes.

Why obliteration? Climate change is the villain. It supercharged the wildfires by turning landscapes into tinder. As such, and contrary to political opinions by right-wing whacko nutcases, climate change does not constitute surreal events in thin air, rather, it’s power-packed hard-hitting damage to our “one and only” planet. It’s authentic.

Australia’s wildfires convulsed above and beyond any known scale of normal fires, from which animals are usually able to escape. They didn’t. They couldn’t run fast enough! The fires took out entire landscapes, not patches of landscape that leave behind pockets of safety untouched for scampering animals. Nothing was left untouched by the hot lapping flames.

The wildfires permanently crippled iconic habitats that make Australia an ecological wonder for all to behold. From loss of crucial plant life to decimation of species that serve as a meal for a higher species, the ripple effects remain unaccountable, extensively beyond human calculation.

Now, two of the world’s largest, and most significant, ecosystems are on fire like never before, similar to Australia’s biblical fires of a year ago, as more, and more, precious natural resources suffer waves of obliteration. Of course, normal fires in the wild are healthy; however, these fires are anything but normal. They’re truly biblical in scale.

Six months of record-breaking temperatures have sparked massive fires in the Siberian Arctic this year. Great plumes of smoke were visible on satellite… temperatures more than 5°C above average over much of Siberia… A Met Office-led international study has concluded this period of exceptional weather would have been impossible had the world not been warmed by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. 2

What we’re seeing really is unprecedented… we’ve never seen the probability of a change of an event of more than 600 times. We’ve never seen a result like that. 3

Looking at the geologic record, we don’t think we’ve ever seen CO2 levels this high in about 5 million years… We are in uncharted territory. ”4 .

Meanwhile, bad vibes with strong undertones of contempt upend civilized society, as follows: America’s president Don Trump has tweeted 120 posts that variously poke fun at, and ridicule, climate change. Moreover, he has issued dozens of tweets claiming that “cold weather” disproves climate change. It should be noted that 62 million people voted for Trump in 2016 and many “live by his words.”

At the same time, in the real world of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research reported 6,803 fires in the Amazon in July 2020 alone, nearly 30% more than July 2019 when the Western world went bananas over the loss of rainforest due to human-set fires, when, in fact, fires are not a regular feature of rainforests.

Now, environmentalists are going batty because August is traditionally the start of the human-generated fire season, but it already has a roaring head of steam. Not only that, but according to INPE data, the first six months of 2020 are already the worst on record for deforestation. Yes, “the worst on record.”

Sure enough, the Amazon rainforest, similar to landscapes in Australia in 2019, is subjected to obliteration forces, and it’s not just deforestation as the root cause. Climate change has kicked into high gear all across the magnificent rainforest with devastating drought conditions galore!

Excessive drought conditions, in part, originate early in the morning in garages around the world as fossil-fueled gasoline engines crank up, spewing out CO2, and the whir of a jet engine igniting, the blast of a diesel train engine cranking up, the murmur of a jet ski, ignition of hot coals for an electricity-generating plant, a furnace blast molding steel, all are the basis, the origin, of greenhouse gases that blanket the atmosphere, in turn, enhancing devastating severe droughts.

According to a landmark Amazonian rainforest in-depth analysis:

Several studies indicate that the region has been suffering severe drought since the end of the last century, as in 1997/1998, 2005, 2010 and 2015. The intensity and frequency of these extreme drought episodes in the AB during the last years, approximately one episode every five years with a significant increase in the coverage area, is remarkable.5

Back-to-back-to-back-to-back 100/year drought events, every 5 years, are not normal, meaning something somewhere is horribly wrong. After all, major ecosystems that profoundly influence all aspects of the planet’s health and well-being are burning, collapsing, melting like there’s no tomorrow. The message is clear.

Along the way, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro feigns attempts to limit rainforest damage, but experts say the government’s response has been largely ineffective, more symbolic than real. In truth, he’s the primary driving force behind record-setting deforestation. Similar to Trump, on the world stage he’s a laughing stock and archenemy of the planet.

According to NASA, this year’s dry season will be more prone to fires than last year’s record-setting affair. Moreover, according to NASA, warmer ocean surface temps in the North Atlantic (global heating at work) create conditions for more extreme drought in the Amazon, as excessive ocean heat brings on far-flung damage. Everything in nature is somehow connected.

“The world on fire” is merely a prelude to a climate “gone berserk” disaster scenario that’s almost certain to eventually take civilization down to its knees, by all appearances sooner than mainstream science suggests, but frankly scientists don’t make such predictions.

Yet, isn’t a climate gone berserk scenario already playing out in real time; e.g., in Siberia, in the Amazon, in Australia?

Meanwhile, climate-related crises on a grand scale never before recorded throughout human history continue building to a crescendo, in earnest, right before society’s “eyes wide shut.”

Postscript: Reports out of the London School of Economics claim one-half of the Arctic fires are peat soil, normally too wet and too cold to burn, but now burning because of powerful intense heat… peat soil is carbon-rich and can burn for months/years, emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).6

Speechless, once again!

  1. NewScientist, June 26, 2020.
  2. “New Warning Over Climate Change From Siberian Arctic”, BBC News, July 15, 2020.
  3. Professor Peter Stott, Met Office, Ibid.
  4. Dr. Katharine Hendry, Ibid.
  5. Beatriz Nunes Garcia, et al, “Extreme Drought Events Over the Amazon Basin: The Perspective from the Reconstruction of South American Hydroclimate”, Departamento de Meteorologia, Instituto de Geociências, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, November  7, 2018.
  6. Arctic Fires Released More Carbon in Two Months Than Scandinavia Will All Year, Grist, Aug. 4, 2020.

Arctic Heat Overwhelms Green Infighting Issues

Arctic temperatures are soaring to new records… and staying there, ever since May of this year. Truth be known, the Arctic’s been heating up for years. Siberia recently hit 105°F. That’s not normal. It’s 30°F hotter than normal.

Farther south, the Amazon rainforest is hit with a drought every 5 years like clockwork, not regular run of the mill droughts but massive excessive devastating droughts. NASA’s GRACE satellite, measuring water levels stored deep beneath Earth’s surface showed Deep Red Zones beneath the Amazon rainforest, not watery blue.

Climate activists have been warning about overheating of the planet for decades, ever since Dr. James Hansen’s testimony before the Senate in 1987: “The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.” (Hansen)

Fast forward to June 2020: Since Hansen’s testimony, thirty-three years of climate activists bitching, protesting, kicking and screaming and bellyaching about excessive human-generated CO2 has gone nowhere but backwards as a relentless rise in CO2 emissions trudges ahead measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii.

Post-Hansen’s testimony the annual rate of CO2 increase has more than doubled, not gone down but doubled. Up, up and away, year-over-year, it never goes down.  It’s the main culprit blanketing the atmosphere, retaining heat for hundreds of years and fast becoming the Big Oven in the Sky.

Clearly, too much heat has already overwhelmed the Arctic and Amazon rainforest ecosystems. Along the way, greenie frustration is finally coming to a head as environmentalists “cat fight” in open public.

For example, Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs’ controversial film Planet of the Humans (Rumble Media) serves as an opening salvo, exposing a green movement that has turned a light shade of brown. The film paints a painful picture of a movement that, in certain instances, has gone off the rails.

Both Moore and Gibbs are lifetime greenies born green. Their film has spooked the green movement into bouts of self-examination and ferocious anger directed right at them, bull’s-eye. After all, the film pulls no punches by highlighting several rash infections of hypocrisy in the uppermost ranks of environmental leadership, acceding to big corporate interests that frankly could care less about the health of ecosystems, other than purely for show.

Otherwise, if they, meaning big corporate interests and billionaires, really cared and were truly concerned, by now they would’ve thrown everything they’ve got, including the kitchen sink, at fixing the climate change conundrum. But, they have not done that, have they?

Still and all, if the intention behind the making of Planet of the Humans was a “wake-up call” (Hey fellas and gals, this is not working) then it was enormously successful. After release of the film, green protestors protested the filmmakers like crazy, but not in the streets. Evidently, Moore and Gibbs struck a chord.

But still, what has 33 years of green advocacy wrought? Answer: Record high CO2 in the atmosphere and nearly 80% dependency upon fossil fuels, same as 50 years ago. Which advocacy group celebrates that?

Now, along comes another frustrated former greenie, Michael Shellenberger, an active environmentalist throughout his career, publishing a book that takes the green movement to the woodshed, as fully exposed in a recent Wall Street Journal review, d/d June 21st by John Tierney of Shellenberger’s book Apocalypse Never, Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All (Harper).

Based upon Tierney’s review, and assuming Tierney did not “cherry pick” and massage the facts to satisfy corporate interests; i.e., the WSJ, Shellenberger misses the target by a country mile. For example, Shellenberger’s “reach for credibility” includes claims such as: “No, climate change has not caused an increase in the frequency or intensity of floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes.” Really? Did Tierney get that right? (Maybe check in with Nebraska, Missouri, S. Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas re the Great Flood of 2019, the longest flood on record, just for starters)

Shellenberger, who evidently promotes industrialization as humanity’s savior, actually suggests, not facetiously, capitalist entrepreneurs saved whales by discovering cheap substitutes for whale oil, like petroleum. Ahem!

And, not to worry about plastics as sunlight and other forces break down the substances…. not to worry. And, solar and wind power are impractical and damage the environment requiring vast areas of land and harm flora and fauna. Oh, really! Did Tierney get that right…? (I know, I know! “Read the book,” but, based upon the review, no thanks)

And, finally, according to Shellenberger: “While industrialization causes a short-term rise in carbon emissions, in the long term it’s beneficial to the environment as people move to cities, allowing farmland to revert to nature, and as prosperity enables them to switch to cleaner and more compact forms of energy.”

Hmm – Just wondering, thinking out loud, where does sophism come into play here?

As a final note about Shellenberger’s book, a positive review in the WSJ is nothing to be proud of if you are an eco warrior of any stripe. It’s the ultimate sell-out, although, it’s not Shellenberger’s fault that the WSJ picked up on his diatribe of the green movement.

Still, aren’t Wall Street and its kissing cousin the WSJ responsible for promoting the neoliberal leviathan that “sucks up” to fossil fuel interests and literally destroyed America’s middle class and unions and checks and balances on pollution by shipping U.S. manufacturing offshore to the lowest common denominator of wages and avoidance of environmental regulations? Answer: Yes!

Based upon Tierney’s review, Shellenberger is simply one more lifeline for the fossil fuel industry and Wall Street’s neoliberal dreamland advocacy. Although its constituency is quite narrow, the one percent plus a few lesser want-a-be millionaire/billionaire luminaries. So, who’s really left to buy the book?

When it comes to neoliberal advocacy, it’s certainly worth mentioning Ross Perot nailing it during the 1992 presidential debate (Bush, Clinton, Perot) when he warned the country about the devastation to follow in NAFTA’s footsteps:

If you are paying $12 per hour, $13 per hour for factory workers, and you can move your factory to south of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor, have no health care, have no environmental controls, no pollution controls, and no retirement plans and you don’t care about anything but making money, there will be giant sucking sound going south.

Perot elaborated:

These kinds of deals will wreck the country.1

P.S. His speech is pretty good fodder for an American revolution.

Perot’s statement speaks volumes as it illuminates why America’s middle class and its unions are broken. Neoliberal ideology, along with its kissing cousin globalization, shipped labor offshore, shipped environmental/pollution regulations offshore, decimated unions, and as much as possible, adopted the green movement with largess of their own making. Motto: Whatever it takes! Overtake and dilute and/or use to market products.

Meanwhile, the planet itself, speaking on its behalf, likely disagrees with Shellenberger. Ecosystems are coming apart at the seams, which Shellenberger ignores and refutes by advocating as core values industrialism and fossil fuels and nuclear over renewables and eco economics. He misses an important point as far as the biosphere is concerned. Salvation for humanity and for the planet is dependent upon tossing out the entire neoliberal experiment in favor of eco economics that favors natural systems and human values over profits and inane infinite growth schemes.

Meantime, throughout the biosphere, ecosystems are breaking down. It is palpable, and Shellenberger knows it. And Moore and Gibbs know it and expressed concern about it.  Further to the point, how could anybody who’s knowledgeable about the climate system miss it?

Consider: It was a little over one year ago when tens of thousands of bats fell out of the sky in Australia because of excessive heat at 42C. According to Dr. Welbergen, president of the Australasian Bat Society:

This sort of event has not happened in Australia this far north since European settlement.2

In May 2020 bats dropped dead in the streets in India.

It appears the mass mortality of bats was caused due to brain hemorrhage, caused by excessive heat.” 3

Not only that, this June 2020 scientists verified the hottest temperature ever recorded in the coldest place on Earth:

The World Meteorological Organization is investigating a record-high temperature for the Arctic after the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk registered a high of 38 degrees Celsius 100 degrees Fahrenheit. 4

That’s Miami weather, and it’s not happening all of a sudden. The entire Arctic has turned into a heat machine that’s been coming on stream for years now.

Not only that, collapsing permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic is happening 70 years earlier than scientists expected, to wit:

Observed maximum thaw depths at our sites are already exceeding those projected to occur by 2090.5

In some locations of the Canadian High Arctic landscape collapsed by three feet, houses sunk into the earth, and roads slip slide in wavy curvatures.

Special Alert! Permafrost covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s loaded with all kinds of greenhouse gas carbon frozen in place just waiting for release.

Not only that, the Wet Bulb Temperature (WBT) effect has already arrived 50 years earlier than expected in some regions of the planet as measured by a recent study. 6

The human body has limits. If “temperature plus humidity” is high enough, even a healthy person seated in the shade with plentiful water to drink will suffer severely or likely die. A threshold is reached when the air temperature climbs above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity is above 90 percent. Death ensues.

Previous studies projected that this (WBT) would happen several decades from now, but this shows it’s happening right now. (Raymond)

Not only that, a major study by 89 climatologists in the journal Nature revealed unprecedented rates of ice melt at the planet’s two greatest ice masses. The combined rate of ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica averaged 89 billion tons per year in the 1990s. Yet, by the 2010s (if standing, please sit down) the average rate exploded to 523 billion tons per annum. 7

Not only that, throughout the world, mega droughts are hitting harder and more viciously than ever before. An Australian research paper identified the worst droughts in 800 years.8

Not only that, according to the UN World Food Program, as for Central America: “Five years of recurring droughts have destroyed maize and bean harvests, leaving poor subsistence farmers in the so-called Dry Corridor that runs through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua struggling to feed their families.” Solution: Pray for rain or migrate north.

And, central Chile is in the midst of what scientists have labeled a “Mega Drought,” an uninterrupted period of dry years since 2010. Half of the country has been designated “Emergency Status.” Farmers are going out of business.9

And, in South America’s Brazil, “The SPI-12 time series showed that from 2011 to 2019, excluding the south region, the other Brazilian regions have been exposed to the most severe and intense drought events in almost the last 60 years.” 10

Not only that, according to NASA, the Middle East’s drought cycle from 1998-2012 was the most severe in 900 years. According to Ben Cook of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. It continues to this day as the eastern and southern Mediterranean coastlines are drying out faster than anywhere else on the planet. Eco migrants follow in kind.

Not only that, throughout much of Asia drought is becoming the norm rather than the exception.11

Remarkably, the impact of global warming is just now starting to strut its stuff so visibly and so perceptibly that average people are recognizing its threat. Fox News reported on the Arctic temps of recent. That’s as average as it gets. But, is Fox really average, or is it something else altogether different?

Yet, according to Tierney’s review of Shellenberger’s book:

The trouble with the new environmental religion is that it has become increasingly apocalyptic, destructive, and self-defeating.

And, of course, as stated previously, Shellenberger claims:

No, climate change has not caused an increase in the frequency or intensity of floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes.

Not to worry, apocalypse never.

The truth of the matter is environmentalists have not screamed loud enough to make a difference as greenhouse gases are presently at all-time highs after three decades of screaming but not loud enough! Should environmentalists scream ever louder or adopt neoliberalism’s laissez-faire approach to business? BTW – Look where that got us.

Ross Perot’s statement at the 1992 presidential debate (see above) is a full description of laissez-faire economics in one long sentence. How’s that working for working people in America and around the world? And, for the greater environment?

Here’s a big part of the problem in a nutshell: In many respects, the Amazon ecosystem and the Arctic are facsimiles of the larger biosphere but more sensitive to climate change. In other words, some ecosystems are ultra-sensitive to changes in the climate system and thus serve as proxies or early warning signals prior to recognition of a looming threat by civilization at large.

Meantime, whilst climate change disrupts ecosystems on the fringes of civilization, society comfortably exists in artificial complexities of cement, steel, glass, and wood within a vast chemically induced world that only recognizes the danger of collapsing ecosystems after it’s too late. Then, it is too late!

Because of fabricated/artificial life styles, as just described, humans are the last living organisms to see and feel, and indeed, truly comprehend the impact of climate change. Artificial life styles masquerade the bigger issues. Thus, artificiality breeds ignorance and stupidity, as reflected in political elections. It’s the “Cement, Steel, Glass, Wood, Chemically Induced Syndrome,” and it’s deadly by stealthily hiding the truth from society at large.

Yet, there are thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers that see the truth. Some of those papers are quoted in this article.

Postscript: A fact worth repeating, time and again because it’s not going away: According to NOAA Climate.gov:

In fact, the last time the atmospheric CO2 amounts were this high was more than 3 million years ago, when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today.

The lag effect is in-process.

  1. Perot in 1992 Warned NAFTA Would Create ‘Giant Sucking Sound’ The Washington Post, July 9, 2019.
  2. How One Heatwave Killed ‘a third’ of a Bat Species in Australia, BBC News, January 15, 2019.
  3. IVRI- Indian Veterinary Research Institute director, R.K. Singh.
  4. “Arctic Siberian Town Hit With Record Heatwave”, Al Jazeera, June 25, 2020.
  5. Louise M. Farquharson et al, “Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic”, Geophysical Research Letters, June 10, 2019.
  6. Colin Raymond, et al, “The Emergence of Heat and Humidity Too Severe for Human Tolerance”, Science Advances, Vol. 6, no. 19, May 8, 2020.
  7. “Ice Loss in Antarctica and Greenland Increased Sixfold in the Last 30 Years”, LiveScience, March 2020.
  8. Multi-century Cool-and Warm-Season rainfall Reconstructions for Australia’s Major Climatic Regions, European Geosciences Union, Vol. 13, Issue 12, November 30, 2017 by Mandy Freund and Benjamin Henley.
  9. “Chile Declares Agricultural Emergency as Extreme Drought Hits Santiago and Outskirts”, Santiago Times, August 26, 2019.
  10. Ana Paula M.S. Cunha, et al, “Extreme Drought Events Over Brazil from 2011 to 2019”, Atmosphere, October 24, 2019.
  11. China Daily News, August 12, 2019.

Amazon Rainforest Hit By Killer Droughts

Over the past 20 years, like clockwork, severe droughts have hit the Amazon every five years with regularity 2005, 2010, 2015. Of course, droughts have hit the Amazon rainforest throughout paleoclimate history, but this time it’s different. The frequency and severity is off the charts.

Recent data is starting to show 2020 as another dire year. “The old paradigm was that whatever carbon dioxide we put up in [human-caused] emissions, the Amazon would help absorb a major part of it,” according to Sassan Saatchi of NASA’s JPL.1

But serious episodes of drought in 2005, 2010 and 2015 are causing researchers to rethink that idea. “The ecosystem has become so vulnerable to these warming and episodic drought events that it can switch from sink to source depending on the severity and the extent,” Saatchi said. “This is our new paradigm.”2

According to a detailed study:

Several studies indicate that the region has been suffering severe drought since the end of the last century, as in 1997/1998, 2005, 2010 and 2015. The intensity and frequency of these extreme drought episodes in the AB during the last years, approximately one episode every five years with a significant increase in the coverage area, is remarkable.3

This year 2020 is shaping up to be a repeat performance, another “remarkable event.” Recent studies indicate: “The data suggests 2020 could be a particularly dire year for the Amazon.” 4

All of which begs the question: How much more abuse can the magnificent rainforest handle for how long?

However, hard-hitting droughts are not the only negative hitting the Amazon rainforest. Failure by political forces is also pounding the rainforest, as the Bolsanaro regime gooses abuse and overuse.  As a result, people are striking back. Civil society groups and public prosecutors in Brazil are taking President Jar Bolsonaro’s government to court for failing to protect the rainforest.

The Amazon rainforest — 60 percent of which lies in Brazil — is one of the world’s great carbon sinks. Preserving its trees and plants is crucial to meeting international targets that limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.5

Meanwhile, hydrologic studies clearly indicate the Amazon rainforest is “drying out.” Nothing could be worse.

Matthew Rodell, a scientist and hydrologist who works with NASA’s GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On) satellite system monitors water levels stored deep beneath Earth’s surface. The data is important for predicting droughts on a worldwide basis.

Based upon current images, GRACE’s satellite shows an Amazon that is in tenuous condition in an unprecedented state of breakdown.

Within only the past few months, the world’s two leading Amazon rainforest scientists made a startling announcement. Thomas Lovejoy (George Mason University) and Carlos Nobre (University of Sao Paulo) reported: “Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.” 6

Tipping points are equilibrium between life and death.

Of recent, GRACE’s images detected large areas of Brazil’s Amazon and Cerrado biomes in what’s classified as “Deep Red Zones,” meaning severely constrained water levels. According to Rodell: “If we see normal to low precipitation this year, then there is potential for drought… I would be concerned.” 7

Rodell’s statement “If we see normal to low precipitation, then there is potential for drought,” is like a slap to the face, a wake up call, implying “normal precipitation” by itself will not get the job done. Problem: Precipitation has been way below normal for way too long.

Today’s potential for a fourth major drought within only two decades magnifies into a virtual horror show when conjoined with the recent record. According to NASA, damaging episodes of three-100/yr droughts back-to-back-to-back, 2005, 2010, 2015 have already undercut and damaged the stability of the Amazon ecosystem. Of major concern, it’s already starting to lose its special “carbon sink” status. That’s unprecedented.

The rainforest doesn’t react like it used to. It does not have enough time between droughts to heal itself and regrow. Throughout all of recorded history, this has never been witnessed. In a word, it’s a horribly dreadful discovery.8

In many respects, the Amazon ecosystem is a facsimile of the larger biosphere but more sensitive to climate change, similar to the Arctic. In other words, some ecosystems are ultra-sensitive to changes in the climate system and thus serve as proxies or early warning signals prior to recognition of the looming threat by civilization at large. Meantime, whilst climate change disrupts ecosystems on the fringes of civilization, society comfortably exists in artificial complexities of concrete, steel, glass, and wood within a vast chemically induced world that only recognizes the danger of collapsing ecosystems after it’s too late. Then, it is too late!

Because of fabricated/artificial life styles, humans are the last living organisms to see and feel, and indeed, truly comprehend the impact of climate change. Artificial life styles masquerade the bigger issues. Artificiality thus breeds ignorance and stupidity, as reflected in political elections. It’s the “Steel, Glass, Wood, Chemically Induced Syndrome,” and it’s deadly.

Meanwhile, Amazon deforestation is on a bender. According to INPE (National Institute for Space Research in Brazil National Penitentiary Institute) it’s up 40% since January.

The rise in deforestation troubles scientists who fear that the combination of forest loss and the effects of climate change could trigger the Amazon rainforest to tip toward a drier ecosystem which is more prone to fire, generates less local and regional rainfall, sequesters less carbon from the atmosphere, and is less hospitable to species adapted to the dense and humid forests of lowland Amazonia. 9

The question arises what is the impact of deforestation?

For starters, hands down, it’s the leading cause of extinction on the planet. Secondly, forest loss contributes approximately 15%-20% to increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions as loss of forests mass removes one of the planet’s natural carbon sinks. Additionally, forests play a critical role in the hydrological cycle, all the way north to Iowa’s cornfields with remarkable “rivers in the sky.”

A long list of additional major benefits could be enumerated, but suffice it to say that, of significant interest, scientists have discovered up to one-half of all trees greater than 4 inches in diameter in the Amazon are more than 300 years old, some 1,000 years old.

Ergo, artificial life supplants hundreds and thousands of years of nature with one quick cut of a buzz saw, but in all honesty, 300-year-old trees take quite a bit longer than one quick cut.

  1. “NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage”, NASA Earth Science, August 9, 2018.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Beatriz Nunes Garcia, et al, “Extreme Drought Events Over the Amazon Basin: The Perspective from the Reconstruction of South American Hydroclimate”, Departamento de Meteorologia, Instituto de Geociências, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, November 7, 2018.
  4. “14 Straight Months of Rising Amazon Deforestation in Brazil,” Mongabay, June 12, 2020.
  5. “To Stop Amazon Deforestation, Brazilian Groups Take Bolsonaro to Court’, Deutsche Welle, June 13, 2020.
  6. “Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action”, Science Advances, Vol. 5, no. 12, December 20, 2019.
  7. “Satellite Data Show Amazon Rainforest Likely Drier, More Fire-Prone This Year”, Mongabay, April 23, 2020.
  8. “NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage”, NASA Earth Science News Team, August 9, 2018.
  9. Rhett A. Butler, “14 Straight Months of Rising Amazon Deforestation in Brazil”, Mongabay, June 12, 2020.

Amazon Onslaught

This month Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro proposed a new bill promoting mining, expanded agriculture, and energy production on indigenous lands in the Amazon. Accordingly, private developers as well as private hedge funds will occupy and develop land that’s been home to indigenous people for thousands of years.

Meantime during Bolsonaro’s first full year in office, deforestation increased by 85%. More on this eye-popping number follows.

Of recent, there have been several deeply disturbing developments in the Amazon. Less than two months ago the world’s leading Amazonian scientists, Thomas Lovejoy (George Mason University) and Carlos Nobre (University of Sao Paulo) issued a harsh warning to the people of the world: “Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.”1

Tipping points are final acts in nature, meaning points of no return for ecosystems, as functionality turns sour. Regarding the vastness of the Amazonian rainforest, its functionality is so worldly powerful that loss is incomprehensible and likely indicative of an impending final act for civilized, as well as uncivilized, life on the planet.

Nevertheless, recklessly flirting with extreme potent danger, the “tipping point warning” by leading scientists is brushed aside by Bolsonaro’s government, as the Amazon rainforest suffers direct attack on all fronts; it’s like an Anti-Climate Change Crusade, meaning, clearing the planet of all life forms, except for humans, but that can only last for so long before “thudding humans” start reverberating throughout the planet.

Already, the belated impact of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming over the decades has only now started clobbering the Amazon with three 100-year droughts, back-to-back-to-back every 5 years. It’s unprecedented, never happened before, until excessive levels of CO2 accumulated in the atmosphere.

According to NASA, serious, likely permanent, damaging episodes of drought in 2005, 2010, and 2015 have literally changed the Amazon, losing its special “carbon sink status.” As such, the Amazon’s sphere of influence in various regions throughout the rainforest transforms from preserving humanity via its powerful “carbon sink” capabilities to morphing into a shameful “carbon emitter,” same as coal-fired power plants spewing CO2, but not as sooty.

Unprecedented 100/year droughts occurring every five years sends a clear resounding signal to the world that something is horribly wrong.

Consider: According to NASA, the timing between drought sequences has impeded regrowth. The rainforest just doesn’t react like it used to. It does not have enough time between droughts to heal itself and regrow. Throughout all of recorded history, this has never been witnessed before. The implications are downright dreadful. 2

Meanwhile and regrettably, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, deforestation of the Amazon surged by 85% in 2019. Wall Street brokers would kill for a stock that increased by 85% in one year, and they would not blink an eye over a bloody mess, if necessary, to achieve such spectacular results, which, in a sense, is equivalent to the 85% Amazonian deforestation scenario. Which will likely get worse in 2020.

Not only that, killing indigenous tribal people is on the rise as private adventurers take Bolsonaro’s rightwing sentiments to heart, intruding into the Amazon. They’re armed for self-defense as well as to assault new lands. One never knows when a barefooted half-naked man carrying a thin wooden spear may appear from within the bush on his sacred homeland.

As if the situation couldn’t get much worse, the outlook for 2020 is simply awful! According to MapBiomas, a Brazilian organization in collaboration with universities, NGOs, and technology companies that monitor deforestation: “It would be expected that it will be worse than last year unless something really big happens in the next two or three months to avoid the high season of deforestation that starts in May (2020), according to Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of a group called MapBiomas.”3

What’s worse than 85% deforestation? Is it 100% or maybe more now that Bolsonaro is so anxious to open up the Amazon to the deep-seated impulses of neoliberal-neocolonial capitalism (1) privatize (2) extract (3) monetize, as quickly as humanly possible, no questions asked.

Going forward, and assuming the Bolsonaro Amazon Extraction Scheme works as planned and passes muster in the hallowed halls of The National Congress of Brazil (Brasilia), it likely puts at risk essential life-sourcing features of the Amazon: Without its wondrous strength and power to generate (1) hydrologic systems (rivers across the sky as far north as Iowa), (2) absorb and store carbon (CO2) and (3) miraculous life-giving endless supply of oxygen, civilization would cease to exist beyond scattered tribes, here and there.

In all, it’s obvious where the Amazonian affair is headed, especially giving consideration to “civilization ceasing to exist beyond scattered tribes, here and there.”

Fortuitously, the infrastructure is already in place for that new world order. There are 305 Brazilian tribes, population 900,000, already in place to teach civilized society how to act and behave and live within natural ecosystems that fundamentally support the planet with vital life-giving resources… for free!

Postscript:  An excellent new film “Rollbacks – An Assault Against Life on Earth” is an exposé of Trump’s attack on the environment.

  1. “Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action”, Science Advances, Vol. 5, no. 12, December 20, 2019.
  2. NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage”, NASA Earth Science News Team, August 9, 2018.
  3. Victoria Klesty, “Amazon Deforestation Could Speed Up In 2020: Expert”, Reuters, January 15, 2020.

The Amazon at a Tipping Point

The Amazon rainforest is a crucial life-support ecosystem. Without its wondrous strength and power to generate hydrologic systems across the sky (as far north as Iowa), absorb and store carbon (CO2), and its miraculous life-giving endless supply of oxygen, civilization would cease to exist beyond scattered tribes, here and there.

Sad to say, a recent scientific analysis of the health of the Amazon rainforest is downright dismal. The world’s two leading Amazon scientists, Thomas Lovejoy (George Mason University) and Carlos Nobre (University of Sao Paulo) recently reported:

Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.1

That’s one of the most devastating news stories in all of human history. Ergo, the persistent climate change headache morphs into a head-splitting pounding migraine of monstrous proportions.

It’s lamentable that world leadership does not take seriously the potential of major ecosystems dying in plain sight. This story should have world leaders shaking in their boots. But, by all appearances, no one is chagrined, other than the scientists who conducted the research.

Tipping points are final acts in nature, points of no return for ecosystems, as functionality turns sour. Regarding the vastness of the Amazonian rainforest, its functionality is so worldly powerful that loss is incomprehensible and likely a final act for civilized, as well as uncivilized, life on the planet. The mighty Amazon is a principal source of oxygen as well as the main driver of hemispheric hydrologic systems (rivers in the sky), impacting rainfall patterns as far away as the cornfields of Iowa.

The Amazon at a tipping point is equivalent to: Nobody knows for sure because it’s never happened before, but there are no positives.

In fact, it’s unimaginable, literally beyond comprehension. Yet, it’s started right before an eyes wide shut world community. And, it’s entirely the result of stupid humans doing really stupid things, like stripping away “the majestic rainforests of all ages” in exchange for “fleeting human needs.”  Honestly, it’s true!

According to the scientists, current trends threaten (1) to turn parts of the rainforest into savanna, (2) devastate wildlife, and (3) release billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. As it is starting to happen, the Amazon is becoming an “emitter of carbon”; same as coal power plants.

Lovejoy and Nobre decided to ring the trusty carillon on the public square:

Witnessing the acceleration of troubling trends. The combination of (1) warming temperatures, (2) crippling wildfires, and (3) ongoing land clearing for cattle ranching and crops has extended dry seasons, killed off water-sensitive vegetation and created conditions for more fire.

Not only that, global warming induces severe bouts of drought that repeatedly hit the Amazon hard, actually weakening its powerful core. Three 100-year droughts have hit in just 10 years! According to NASA, serious episodes of drought in 2005, 2010, and 2015 have literally “changed the Amazon,” losing its special “carbon sink” status. That’s global warming hard at work.

The old paradigm was that whatever carbon dioxide we put up in (human-caused) emissions, the Amazon would help absorb a major part of it.2

Nowadays, that old paradigm is giving way to:

The ecosystem has become so vulnerable to these warming and episodic drought events that it can switch from sink to source… This is our new paradigm.3

Further aggravating post-drought crumbling, the timing between drought sequences has impeded rapid regrowth. It just doesn’t react like it used to. The rainforest does not have enough time between droughts to heal itself and regrow. That’s a first in all of human history, and the implications are downright dreadful.

It is no exaggeration to say the foregoing analysis is about as bad as it gets prior to the onset of blatantly obvious ecosystem collapses accompanied by hard-hitting repercussions for all of society. That’s when people will finally start to pressure their leadership to “do something” to relieve the dangers and disasters and stop the massive flow of hordes of eco migrants lumbering across the countryside, searching for sustenance.

Meantime, rare agriculturally productive land becomes the most valued asset of all time.

Postscript:

Starting with the drought year of 2005 and running through 2008 … the Amazon basin lost an average of 0.27 petagrams of carbon (270 million metric tons) per year, with no sign of regaining its function as a carbon sink.4

  1. “Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action”, Science Advances, Vol. 5, no. 12, December 20, 2019.
  2. Sassan Saatchi of NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, “NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage”, NASA Earth Science News Team, August 9, 2018.
  3. NASA.
  4. NASA, August 2018.

Decimation of the Rainforests and the Money Men

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, according to the World Resources Institute, that trend has 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 money men. 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 halt 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.

Amazonia in Flames

On 28 October 2018, Jair Bolsonaro was elected President of Brazil with 55.1% of the vote and with a gigantic help from Cambridge Analytica.

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January 2019 in Davos Switzerland, Bolsonaro made a sumptuous presentation, “We Are Building a New Brazil”. He outlined a program that put literally Brazil up for sale, and especially the Brazilian part of Amazonia. He was talking particularly about Brazil’s water resources, the world’s largest, and the rain forest – offering a huge potential for agricultural development and mining.

None of the world leaders present at the WEF, precisely those that regularly meet pretending to save the planet, reacted to Bolsonaro’s statement on the Amazon region. They all knew who Bolsonaro was and is. They knew that the man had no scruples and would destroy – literally – the world’s lungs. They did nothing. They stayed silent in words and deeds, applauding the neonazi for his openness to international business and globalization.

Today, on the occasion of another similar world event, the meeting of the G7 in Biarritz, France, French President Macron accused Bolsonaro of lying when he talked and pledged environmental consciousness after taking office, about protecting the Amazon area. Macron was joined by Germany in threatening Brazil with canceling the trade agreement with Mercosur, if he would not immediately undertake to stop the “wildfires”. They have most likely nothing to do with ‘wild’ as they, according to all circumstantial evidence, were planted in a concerted effort to rid the rich Amazon territory of the life-sustaining jungle, so as to make the newly gained flame-deforested land accessible for private agri-business and mining.

Mind you, the G7 is another self-appointed totally illegal group of industrialized, rich countries (similar to the G20); illegal, because they have been approved by nobody, not by the UN or any international body. They became rich mostly on the back of poor developing nations that were and are still colonized for hundreds of years. The G7 count today about 10% of the world population and are controlling 40% of the globe’s GDP.

Despite the fact that nobody, other than themselves, ratified their existence and their machinations, they believe they can call the shots of how the world should turn and function. They have no official backing by anybody, especially not the people across the globe, who, with a vast majority are fighting globalization. It’s a useless structure – RT refers to them as “The Unbearable Pointlessness of G7” – but their power lays in the rest of the world’s silence, their silent acceptance of the G7’s arrogant wielding of the scepter of power.

So, would Bolsonaro take them seriously, knowing that he is one of them and they are fully sharing his ideology of profit first, shoving environmental and social values down the muddy waters of the Amazon River? Hardly. He knows they are hypocrites. He knows that they make a bit of noise, because they have to. It makes for good public relation and propaganda – so people don’t go on the barricades. He knows that starting this coming Monday, 26 August, when the G7 summit will be history, that anything the Macrons of this world so impressively said, will fade away. The media will concentrate on other ‘news’ – and the forest fires will burn the life stream of Amazonia away – to make room for corporate profit-making by the elite few.

Never mind the Constitutional protection of indigenous people and their land. Bolsonaro backed by evangelists and his military junta will rapidly dismantle any remaining protection for the ecosystem and native communities. His argument goes that the native people’s land is sitting on huge reserves of natural resources that belong to Brazil and may be concessioned to private corporations for mining, exploitation of agriculture and lumber.

The indigenous folks are people who have for thousands of years made a peaceful living in the Amazon. They are the gatekeepers of Amazonia; they are the people who may carry our genes from the present killer civilization to the next, hopefully less of a killer one, when mankind has finally managed to destroy itself. It will not destroy the planet. Never. The planet will just get rid of the nefarious elements of annihilation – mankind – and renew itself. As has happened many times in the past – a new civilization will eventually be born – and, yes, the world’s indigenous people, the likely only survivors, may carry on our DNA, possibly to the next attempt at humanity.

The fires have so far in about 20 days since they were discovered, consumed at least 74,000 ha of tropical rain forest. The smoke is already trespassing the border to Argentina and affecting the provinces of Formosa, Jujuy, Corrientes, Catamarca, La Rioja, Santa Fe and may have already reached Buenos Aires. NASA reports that about 3.2 million square kilometers of South America are covered by smoke.

The flames are massive and are devastating the jungle at a rapid pace. Amazonia comprises one of the world’s largest rainforests, also known as Mother Earth’s lungs – without which humanity – and fauna and flora might not survive.

According to the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the fires increased by 83% – almost double – from what they were last year, and, not coincidentally, at least 68% of protected areas have been affected. The Brazilian Space Research spotted 72,000 fires, of which 9,000 last week alone. The Amazon is home to 34 million people, including over 350 indigenous groups.

At the onset of the G7 conference, Mr. Macron twittered:

“Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20% of our planet’s oxygen – is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 Summit, let’s discuss this emergency first order in two days!”

The destruction of the Amazon is indeed a crime of first degree. Accordingly, there are protests around the world against Bolsonaro’s “free for all” mining, lumbering, land and water grabbing policies. The eco-warriors Extinction Rebellion (XR) organize widespread protests, and in front of London’s Brazilian Embassy protesters chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, Bolsonaro’s got to go!”.

While the Brazil fires catch world attention, there are jungle fires even larger than those in Amazonia burning down other parts of the world’s oxygen-generating lungs. Bloomberg cites NASA data, according to which last Thursday and Friday, 22 and 23 August – in two days alone – more than 6,900 fires were recorded in Angola and about 3,400 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), about 5 times as many as in the same two days in the Brazilian Amazon region. The destruction of the jungle in Africa progresses virtually unnoticed and is hardly reported in western media. Bloomberg is an exception. Why is that?

Could it be that the same globalized corporations interested in Brazil’s natural resources underlaying the Amazon forests are also interested in those enormous reserves of minerals and hydrocarbon resources of Central Africa? Have they – DRC, Angola and possibly others been encouraged tacitly or directly by Bolsonaro and his clan to let the jungle burn? There are plenty of Brazilian corporations which have a vivid interest in Angola, another former Portuguese colony.

Despite the G7 apparent concern to protect the world’s lungs in Amazonia, they seem to be oblivious about the Central African rain forest devastation. The massive African fires too advance rapidly and extinguish another part of the world’s lungs. But these fires are not on the G7 radar or agenda for discussion, and nobody is threatened with sanctioning if the respective governments remain hapless onlookers.

In 2008, a so-called Amazon Fund, the first UN REDD+ initiative for the protection, preservation and monitoring of the Amazon region was created (UN REDD+ = reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks).

Germany and Norway – and others – have accused Brazil for not having properly invested their contribution into the Fund. Norway has recently blocked a payment of US$ 30 million destined for the Fund. Germany had blocked already in early August the equivalent of US$ 39 million for different Amazon protection programs to be financed by the Fund. But Bolsonaro, in a nonchalant manner, dismissed the blocked payments, suggesting that Germany should use the funds for reforestation of Germany.

In the case of Brazil, the threats by the Macron-Merkel duo – and others – seem to have had at least at the outset the effect that Bolsonaro is mobilizing the military to help extinguish the fires. Will he succeed? Does he want to succeed? In any case will the media continue reporting on progress once the G7 have gone home?  Will the world’s outcry be loud enough to force a concerted effort, possibly UN led to fight and extinguish these fires that are menacing not only to destroy a key oxygen generator for life on mother earth, but also a UNESCO protected world heritage?