Tag Archives: Environment

Leaked documents show Brazil’s Bolsonaro has grave plans for Amazon rainforest

DemocraciaAbierta had access to PowerPoints from a meeting that took place earlier this year in the state of Pará between members of the Bolsonaro government. The slides show that the current government intends to use the president’s hate speech to diminish the power of minorities living in the region and to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact for the Amazon.

The Bolsonaro government has as one of its priorities to strategically occupy the Amazon region to prevent the implementation of multilateral conservation projects for the rainforest, specifically the so-called “Triple A” project.

“Development projects must be implemented on the Amazon basin to integrate it into the rest of the national territory in order to fight off international pressure for the implementation of the so-called ‘Triple A’ project. To do this, it is necessary to build the Trombetas River hydroelectric plant, the Óbidos bridge over the Amazon River, and the implementation of the BR-163 highway to the border with Suriname,” one of slides read.

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Posted by on August 22, 2019 in South America


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Why the Democratic National Committee Must Change the Rules and Hold a Climate Debate

Dear Members of the DNC:

Your meeting in San Francisco this weekend takes place against a backdrop that is literally on fire. You are gathering one month after the hottest month ever recorded in human history. You are meeting on the same week that smoke from a record number of wildfires in the Amazon rainforest turned day into night in the Brazilian megapolis of São Paulo. And you are meeting just days after Iceland’s prime minister led her country in its first funeral service for a major glacier lost to climate change.

This is the terrifying context in which you will vote on a series of resolutions to determine whether the presidential primaries will include a dedicated debate about the climate emergency. Not the already scheduled climate “forum” or climate “town hall,” which will surely be fascinating for those who seek them out — but a formal televised debate among the top candidates vying to lead your party and the country.

I am writing to add my voice to the hundreds of thousands of others who have called on you to use your power to turn that debate into a reality.

Many of you are already on board, including the chairs of several state parties, but you are up against some powerful opponents. Let’s take on their two main counterarguments in turn.

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Posted by on August 22, 2019 in North America


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The Trump Administration Just Gutted the Endangered Species Act

The Trump administration announced new regulations that will
effectively gut the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on Monday, hampering
one of the most important environmental laws ever passed.

Department of the Interior, currently headed by former fossil fuel
lobbyist David Bernhardt, and the Department of Commerce made sweeping
changes to the regulations required by the ESA just months after a United Nations report
detailed an “unprecedented” decline of biodiversity and accelerating
extinction rates. The changes “clarify, interpret, and implement
portions of the Act,” according to the text of the final regulations.

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Posted by on August 13, 2019 in North America


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Deforestation, Agriculture, and Diet Are Fuelling the Climate Crisis

In the Amazon, or in the parts of the Amazon that people have mowed down and converted into grazing pasture, the average abattoir-bound cow has nearly three acres to himself. Nice for the cow, perhaps, but senseless and dangerous in every other way. Every year, on average, tropical deforestation accounts for fifteen per cent of global greenhouse emissions. About half of the contributing deforestation occurs in South America; deforestation in the Amazon recently increased. If the trend continues, scientists have found, it could lengthen the forest’s dry season, triggering even greater warming and drying, killing trees in the nearby (still intact) forest, and eventually causing mass tree mortality and an entire ecosystem shift—from rainforest to savannah. The tipping point for such a collapse in the Amazon is between twenty and twenty-five per cent deforestation—fifteen to seventeen per cent is already gone. “If you exceed the threshold,” Carlos Nobre, a Brazilian climate and tropical-forest expert, told me, “fifty to sixty per cent of the forest could be gone over three to five decades.”

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Uncategorized



Rainforest on Fire

The river basin at the center of Latin America called the Amazon is roughly the size of Australia. Created at the beginning of the world by a smashing of tectonic plates, it was the cradle of inland seas and continental lakes. For the last several million years, it has been blanketed by a teeming tropical biome of 400 billion trees and vegetation so dense and heavy with water, it exhales a fifth of Earth’s oxygen, stores centuries of carbon, and deflects and consumes an unknown but significant amount of solar heat. Twenty percent of the world’s fresh water cycles through its rivers, plants, soils, and air. This moisture fuels and regulates multiple planet-scale systems, including the production of “rivers in the air” by evapotranspiration, a ceaseless churning flux in which the forest breathes its water into great hemispheric conveyer belts that carry it as far as the breadbaskets of Argentina and the American Midwest, where it is released as rain.

In the last half-century, about one-fifth of this forest, or some 300,000 square miles, has been cut and burned in Brazil, whose borders contain almost two-thirds of the Amazon basin. This is an area larger than Texas, the U.S. state that Brazil’s denuded lands most resemble, with their post-forest landscapes of silent sunbaked pasture, bean fields, and evangelical churches. This epochal deforestation — matched by harder to quantify but similar levels of forest degradation and fragmentation — has caused measurable disruptions to regional climates and rainfall. It has set loose so much stored carbon that it has negated the forest’s benefit as a carbon sink, the world’s largest after the oceans. Scientists warn that losing another fifth of Brazil’s rainforest will trigger the feedback loop known as dieback, in which the forest begins to dry out and burn in a cascading system collapse, beyond the reach of any subsequent human intervention or regret. This would release a doomsday bomb of stored carbon, disappear the cloud vapor that consumes the sun’s radiation before it can be absorbed as heat, and shrivel the rivers in the basin and in the sky.

The catastrophic loss of another fifth of Brazil’s rainforest could happen within one generation. It’s happened before. It’s happening now.

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Reportages, South America


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Economistas, por favor, inventen algo

El pasado 9 de junio la tribuna de El País abría la semana con un curioso artículo de John Gray, “Cambio climático y extinción del pensamiento”, que es un buen ejemplo de cómo hasta las personas más lúcidas pueden caer en la trampa de confiar en soluciones tecnooptimistas con muy poca base a la hora de buscar soluciones al cambio climático.

El de John Gray es un artículo curioso porque comienza afirmando la importancia del cambio climático y diciendo tajantemente que “todo el mundo, excepto los negacionistas más contumaces, se da cuenta de que, en el mundo que los seres humanos han habitado a lo largo de su historia, está teniendo lugar un cambio sin precedentes”. Pero después, sorprendentemente, en lugar de dar la razón al colectivo que ha puesto sobre la mesa la emergencia climática, califica de ingenuo al movimiento ecologista y desprecia las soluciones que éste propone.

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Uncategorized



Why the Greens should stop playing God

The state of the planet is forcing itself into the centre of the human mind. For increasing numbers of people, climate change is a palpable fact. Island communities and coastal cities are suffering the effects of rising sea levels, and all of us experience extreme weather and disjointed seasons.

Centre-ground politicians have accepted that some kind of action, more radical than any that has been implemented so far, has become urgently necessary. Everyone but the most stubborn climate denialists realises that an unprecedented change is taking place in the world that humans have inhabited throughout their history.

At the same time, as T.S. Eliot wrote in Four Quartets, “humankind cannot bear very much reality”, and thinking on the subject is increasingly delusional. A by-product of worldwide industrialisation based on fossil fuels, the shift that is underway was set in motion by human beings. It does not follow however that humans can stop it.

Why the Greens should stop playing God

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Posted by on August 9, 2019 in Reportages, Uncategorized


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Why Didn’t Chernobyl Kill All the Plants?

Chernobyl has become a byword for catastrophe. The 1986 nuclear disaster, recently brought back into the public eye by the hugely popular TV show of the same name, caused thousands of cancers, turned a once populous area into a ghost city, and resulted in the setting up of an exclusion zone 2600km² in size.

But Chernobyl’s exclusion zone isn’t devoid of life. Wolves, boars and bears have returned to the lush forests surrounding the old nuclear plant. And when it comes to vegetation, all but the most vulnerable and exposed plant life never died in the first place, and even in the most radioactive areas of the zone, vegetation was recovering within three years.

Humans and other mammals and birds would have been killed many times over by the radiation that plants in the most contaminated areas received. So why is plant life so resilient to radiation and nuclear disaster?

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Posted by on August 8, 2019 in Uncategorized


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Bali is not an eco-tourism destination – but plans are in place to drastically reduce marine plastic pollution

The Bali Partnership, an organisation created to help Indonesia reduce ocean plastics by 70 per cent by 2025, and supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also found that each of the island’s annual 16 million tourists – about six million of whom are from overseas – generates 3.5 times more waste per day than a local resident. In total, they account for 13 per cent of Bali’s total waste.There are green initiatives already in place – 400 of them, according to the Bali Partnership’s research – but activities need to be expanded to areas where the need is greatest, to maximise the environmental impact. If it were to focus its efforts on just 15 of Bali’s 57 subdistricts, the organisation estimates that the amount of plastic pollution finding its way into Bali’s waters could be reduced by 44 per cent. To achieve this, “the Bali Partnership will raise funding to conduct a pilot using this powerful, multi-stakeholder approach in one of the highest leakage sub-districts”. Whatever that means.

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Posted by on August 8, 2019 in Asia


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Perché brucia il circolo polare artico

Di solito il paesaggio della Siberia orientale non somiglia all’inferno. In inverno è coperto da un lenzuolo di neve. D’estate le sue foreste sono rigogliose e i suoi terreni acquitrinosi impregnati d’acqua. Quest’anno, tuttavia, la regione sta andando a fuoco, come accade ad ampie zone del circolo polare artico.

Non è mai stato registrato niente di questa portata da quando, nel 2003, sono cominciati i rilevamenti satellitari ad alta risoluzione nell’estremo nord russo. Uno studio del 2013 suggerisce che anche la quantità d’incendi nelle regioni boreali sia anomala rispetto agli ultimi diecimila anni.

I ricercatori definiscono “senza precedenti” gli eventi di quest’anno. I dati di quest’estate sono “folli”, secondo Guillermo Rein, studioso dell’Imperial college di Londra.

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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Europe, Uncategorized


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