UPDATE 29. August 2019: Bolsonaro rows back and accepted 12mio BritishPounds offered at the G7 summit by the UK for firefighting, deployed 44,000 soldiers and ordered a 60 day fire starting moratorium on Wednesday. Environmental groups see this as mere window-dressing.
Almost 4,000 new forest fires were started in Brazil in the two days after the government banned deliberate burning of the Amazon, officials have revealed. Some 3,859 outbreaks were recorded by the country’s National Space Research Institute (Inpe) in the 48 hours following the 60-day prohibition on setting trees alight. Around 2,000 of those blazes were in the Amazon rainforest.
Amazon Forest Basin in Flames – Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is a World Criminal – Encouraging Jungle Burning for Private Exploitation of Robbed Lands
By Peter Koenig (*) - GR - August 26, 2019
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 new 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 tweeted:
“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!”
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! #ActForTheAmazon pic.twitter.com/dogOJj9big
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) August 22, 2019
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 an 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. Whys 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?
* Note to readers: Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
The original source of this article is Global Research - Copyright © Peter Koenig, Global Research, 2019
Bolsonaro ambassador threatens to choke Macron and insults wife Brigitte amid Amazon fires row: 'He sleeps with a dragon'
Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept discusses the record-setting Amazon forest fires, the struggle against Brazil’s far-right government, and how his reporting revealed to the world how all of this came about: a high-level plot that imprisoned Lula da Silva and prevented him from running in the last presidential election.
Guest: Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist.
Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept and a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is at the center of one of the most important stories and struggles in the world. In the last several months, Glenn and his team at The Intercept Brazil have exposed massive corruption at the highest levels of the Brazilian government. Leaks obtained by The Intercept showed that the current Super Justice Minister, Sergio Moro, was involved in a plot to jail Lula da Silva, the former president. This prevented Lula from running in the last presidential election and paved the way for the victory of the far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who then appointed Moro to his cabinet.
For exposing this, Glenn Greenwald has been threatened with arrest and deportation. And as all of this is happening, we are now seeing the Amazon rainforest on fire at record levels as a result of the policies of Bolsonaro.
“When you combine [Bolsonaro’s] aggressive deforestation, with contempt for the indigenous, with the role that these agribusiness interests play in his government, there’s no question that the destruction of the Amazon — including by just sometimes lighting the Amazon on fire — there’s no question that ideology has played a key role in everything we’re seeing,” Greenwald says.
Greenwald also discusses the threats he’s received from Brazil’s far-right government and its supporters for exposing the corruption behind Operation Car Wash. “It’s been gratifying at the same time as it’s been somewhat intense, because when you go into journalism, or in David’s [Miranda, husband of Glenn Greenwald] case when you go into politics, this is what you go in to do – is to stand up to the people who are the most powerful,” Greenwald says.
“It’s very easy to pretend to be an anti-fascist warrior by tweeting meaninglessly, or by being in a country where you’re expressing ideas that you tell yourself are radical, but in fact are very mainstream and that don’t put you at risk. It’s another thing to really have the opportunity — which we got when this source gave us his information – to expose corruption at the highest levels of a right-wing, repressive, and authoritarian proto-fascist regime.”
“And so as dangerous as it is, and as difficult as it sometimes has been for us personally, it’s also been incredibly gratifying. This is what as a journalist I want most to be doing, is exactly this sort of work.”
Aaron Maté is a journalist and producer. He hosts Pushback with Aaron Maté on The Grayzone. He is also is contributor to The Nation magazine and former host/producer for The Real News and Democracy Now!. Aaron has also presented and produced for Vice, AJ+, and Al Jazeera.
Bolsonaro bans land-clearing fires in Amazon for 60 days
By Shasta Darlington, Florencia Trucco, Jaide Garcia and Bianca Britton, CNN
Updated August 29, 2019
CNN takes you into heart of the Amazon fires
São Paulo, Brazil (CNN)Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has banned the use of fire to clear land throughout the country for 60 days, in response to the massive increase in blazing fires in the Amazon rainforest that has caused international outrage.
According to an official decree, which was released on Thursday morning, the ban started on Wednesday -- the day it was signed.
The practice of burning land in rural areas is common among farmers, who will often use fires to clear the land for new crops or livestock.
Bolsonaro has repeatedly insisted the Amazon should be opened to development and has defunded the agencies responsible for cracking down on illegal activity.
Experts say his pro-development policies and lax regulation have led to ranchers and farmers burning the rainforest for purposes of cultivation and farming.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro banned the use of fire to clear land throughout Brazil on Wednesday.
The ban comes after scientists warned that fires which have been raging at a record rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change.
The Amazon, which spans eight countries and covers 40% of South America, is often referred to as "the planet's lungs" because estimates show that nearly 20% of oxygen produced by the Earth's land comes from rainforest. The Amazon also puts an enormous amount of water into the atmosphere at a time when cities are drying up.
Despite environmentalists pointing the finger at Bolsonaro, Brazil's populist pro-business President who is backed by Brazil's so-called beef caucus, he has dismissed accusations of responsibility for the fires and declared last week that he would send 43,000 troops to combat the inferno.
He also announced on Wednesday that South American leaders will meet on September 6 in Colombia to discuss policy surrounding the situation in the Amazon, according to Brazilian state news agency Agencia Brasil.
According to Agence France-Presse news agency, on Thursday United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged the globe to do more to tackle the Amazonian fires.
"We are strongly appealing for the mobilization of resources and we have been in contact with countries to see whether, during the high-level session of the General Assembly, there could be a meeting devoted to the mobilization of support to the Amazon," Guterres told reporters from an African development conference in Japan, according to AFP.
Guterres stressed that "until now, we have not done enough, we need to do all together more than we have done in the past," and called the situation "very serious."
War of words
The special communications office for Bolsonaro told CNN on Tuesday morning that Brazil would turn down the $20 million aid offer that was pledged for the Amazon at the G7 summit in France the day before.
However, just an hour later, Bolsonaro appeared to cast doubt on the matter. "Did I say that? Did I? Did Jair Bolsonaro speak?" he asked reporters outside the presidential residence.
The Brazilian President has since softened his stance on the financial aid, suggesting that he would consider the G7's aid if Macron apologizes for accusing Bolsonaro of "lying" to him about climate commitments during trade negotiations.
The nation has also since accepted $12 million in aid from the UK government, which is a member of the G7.
CNN's Shasta Darlington reported from São Paulo, Florencia Trucco, Jaide Garcia and Flora Charner reported from Atlanta and Bianca Britton wrote from London.