Amazon Rainforest Sees Biggest Spike in Deforestation in Over a Decade
18 Nov 2019 – Picture, for a second, just how vast New York City is. All told, including Staten Island, the Bronx and every block in between, the massive metropolis takes up more than 300 square miles. Now, try to picture a hunk of land more than 12 times that size.
That’s about how much of the Amazon rainforest was destroyed in just the span of a year, according to Brazilian authorities.
The country’s National Institute for Space Research, or INPE, released data Monday revealing that 3,769 square miles of rainforest were lost to deforestation in a 12-month period ending in July. That marks the highest rate of deforestation since 2008 — and a nearly 30% spike over the rate recorded by INPE during the previous yearlong span.
At a news briefing Monday, Brazil’s environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, vouched for the accuracy of the stark numbers and said authorities are considering new ways to combat the illegal logging and mining operations that he blamed for the rising tide of destruction.
Those comments are unlikely to inspire confidence among critics of Salles or his boss, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has not yet commented publicly on the new set of numbers.
Since the right-wing politician took office at the start of this year, his administration has slashed budgets and sidelined staff at the environmental regulatory agencies responsible for targeting illegal logging and ranching in the rainforest. Bolsonaro has labeled these regulations impediments to Brazil’s economic growth.
But critics have pilloried these policies as a principal cause of the soaring deforestation rates recently. That criticism only grew louder over the summer, when a series of major fires ravaged large swaths of the Amazon and attracted international concern. By late August, researchers had already seen an 80% leap over last year in the number of wildfires that had erupted across the country.
Bolsonaro, a climate skeptic, has repeatedly cast doubt on the numbers put forth by the INPE, and earlier this year he fired the agency’s director, Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão. The erstwhile agency leader told local media he was dismissed for questioning how the Brazilian president was using INPE’s data.
Disputes over the government’s environmental policies have also erupted between Bolsonaro and other world leaders, some of whom — including French President Emmanuel Macron — offered Brazil at least $22 million to help fight the wildfires. Bolsonaro angrily rebuffed that offer, demanding a personal apology from Macron as the condition for him even considering it.
“President Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental agenda favours those who practice environmental crimes, and encourages violence against forest people,” Cristiane Mazzetti of Greenpeace said in a statement released Monday. “His administration is trashing practically all the work that has been done in recent decades to protect the environment and end deforestation.”
Brazil’s Climate Observatory, a network of environmental advocacy organizations including Greenpeace, said the data INPE released Monday don’t just represent the highest rate of deforestation in Brazil in 11 years; the network says these numbers also mark the third-highest ever on record.
“The question that remains,” said Carlos Rittl, the Climate Observatory’s executive secretary, “is how long Brazil’s trading partners will trust the promises of sustainability and compliance with the Paris Agreement, as forests fall, indigenous leaders are killed and environmental laws are shattered.”
At his briefing Monday, Salles, the environmental minister, pledged to seek solutions at an upcoming meeting with leaders of local governments.
Tags: Amazonia, Bolsonaro, Brazil, Corruption, Deforestation, Environment
DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Click here to go to the current weekly digest or pick another article:
- Deforestation, Oil Spills, and Coronavirus: Crises Converge in the Amazon
- W.H.O and China: A Case of Geo-Political Misdirection
- The Pandemic of Fear: A View from Moscow
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN:
- Colombian Political Figures, Activists Reject US Troops' Arrival
- Experts: Cuba Is Close to the Post-COVID Stage
- Venezuela: Gold Kept at Bank of England Needed to Fight COVID-19