by Gloria Tatum
The Amazon Rainforest, the world’s largest tropical forest, is on fire and the whole world will suffer the climate consequences. This has created concern and fear around the world because the Amazon Rainforest is known as the “lungs of the world.”
Unfortunately, Brazil is not the only country on fire. Africa, Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, and even the Arctic Circle are on fire.
Africa has more wildfires burning than does the Amazon, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). However, Greenpeace Africa reports that the fires in Africa are small compared to the fires in the Amazon.
In Siberia 21,000 square miles of forest have gone up in flames, Greenland’s fire is causing more ice melt, the Arctic Circle is experiencing the worst wildfires on record, and Alaska wildfires have burned over one million acres in 2019.
Mother Earth is getting hotter and her forests are burning that provide us with oxygen so we can breathe.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that this past July was the hottest July on record which is the latest sign of a climate crisis.
Indigenous Earth Defenders, National Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) and Amazon Watch put out an urgent call for an international solidarity response to the fires in the Amazon.
In Atlanta, about 50 environmental advocates and climate change activists from several organizations, including Extinction Rebellion (XR), answered the call to protest the Amazon fires at the Brazilian Consulate.
Standing at Lenox Road and Alliance Center Drive, they chant “Burning forests for corporate gain, profiteering, and killing – Not in our name!”
Environmental advocates claim Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental rhetoric that promotes deforestation policies, slashing Brazil’s environmental budget, cutbacks in funding for enforcement, repeal of regulations that would protect the Amazon, and dismantling support for indigenous communities is to blame for the destruction and fires in the Amazon.
Two students from Kennesaw State University tell why they are protesting the Amazonian fires.
“I’m here to protest against Brazil for the Amazon fires. I want to stand in solidarity with the indigenous people in Brazil because I’m also indigenous from Central America,” Marisol Mendez, from Guatemala tells the Streets of Atlanta.
Her friend, Melanie, from France said that “we have to think about future generations [because] nothing is more important than the planet we live on. People say making money is the priority not the environment, but you can’t make money if we are all dead from disasters caused by climate change.”
But why is the Amazon Rainforest so important to the world?
It produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and absorbs 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide (co2) which benefits the rest of the world. The Rainforest stabilizes the climate and produces rainfall all around the world, and it is home to millions of plants and animals.
“The Amazon absorbs greenhouse gases, and if we burn it down eventually there is a feedback loop or what people call a runaway cycle which exacerbates [ the planet getting hotter] and the Amazon will collapse. If that happens we lose a major carbon sink [collector/storage of co2] which will make climate change worse,” David Hofmann, a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University, and a member of Science for the People and Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America, tells the Streets of Atlanta.
Amazon Watch and the National Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) claim that governments and companies around the world are emboldening Bolsonaro’s toxic anti-environment policies when they enter trade agreements with his government or invest in agribusiness companies operating in the Amazon.
To find the root of the problem of deforestation and fires in the Amazon just follow the money.
BlackRock corporation, across the street from the Brazilian consulate, is an institutional investor in all the agribusiness giants that are engaged in deforestation and the destruction of the Amazon. They have six trillion in assets and are financing climate destruction from tar sands to the Amazon.
The dirty dozen corporations and financial institutions complicit in destroying the Amazon and contributing to the climate crisis are listed below.
The Financiers with the big money driving deforestation are BlackRock, JP Morgan Chase, Santander, BNP, and HSBC
The Traders or the middlemen trafficking deforestation are Cargill-soy, JBS- beef, and Marfrig-beef
The Retailers are Leclerc, Walmart, Stop and Shop and Costco
“Bolsonaro has been encouraging corporations to grab the land and clear cut and burn it down and take it from the indigenous people,” Neil Sardana, Georgia Beyond Coal Organizer, Sierra Club said.
Ambassador Carlos Abreau, Consul General of Brazil came out to talk with the climate change activists.
“Brazil is fully committed to the protection and the sustainable development of the Amazon. These spots of fires, they are about the average number of the last 15 years, it happens every year We have 45 thousand federal troops in the Amazon working with firefighters and local police to stop these spots of fires. Now, spots of fire went down 50% since May 15,” Abreau said.
Abreau said the climate activists information was wrong and encouraged everyone to read the Brazilian press for clarification.
A young man with Extinction Rebellion (XR) reading from this cell phone countered, “the fires are 40% larger than they have ever been before,” according to Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research.
Sardana asks Abreau to take this message to President Bolsonaro from Atlanta, “We believe that independent monitoring of the Amazon shows that these fires have been allowed by the government and corporations have been taking these lands. We call on Bolsonaro to stop the fires and stop land takeover by corporations and special interests.”
Amazon Watch reports that in Brazil 11,500 square miles of forest have been consumed in August, quadrupling the area burned last year. There are over 80,000 fires burning in Brazil, with more than half of them in the Amazon.
Climate activism is growing worldwide, especially among people under thirty because it is their future that is in danger of being destroyed by climate change.
“I’m part of XR and we are having climate protest all over the world. We are having one in Atlanta on the 27th, and in New York on the 20th and, more all over the world that week. So we will continue to grow, especially as more climate catastrophes keep occurring and people wake up. No one is protected and everyone is involved,” Nathaniel Farrior predicts.
Click on the Georgia Grassroots Video below to hear activists respond to the Brazilian ambassador’s state-driven propaganda.
Video by Judy Conder, Georgia Grassroots Video, https://youtu.be/5k4y32QEfHY