Can one man single-handedly ruin the planet?
It has been alleged that Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, wants to destroy the Amazon rainforest, which has frequently been referred to as the “lungs of the Earth.”
Like US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro -- often dubbed the “Trump of South America” -- claims that both global warming and carbon emissions are falsifications propagated by the media to further politically motivated agendas.
With regards to the rampant fires which recently blazed through the Amazon, Bolsonaro’s reaction has been dismissive, to say the least. Instead of expressing concern at the grave environmental crisis, he joked: “I used to be called Captain Chainsaw. Now I am Nero, setting the Amazon aflame.”
The sheer irresponsibility and insensitivity displayed in his statement should be unacceptable, considering that he’s the president of a country.
Bolsonaro has stated that Brazil’s economy is suffering due to the declining export earnings of timber. He also claimed that if ranches are not built, beef exports will decline, and Brazil will grow even poorer. The consequences of commercially rearing cattle are deadly. 4.05 million square kilometers of the Amazon has already been deforested to create pasture.
In a recently uncovered document, it has been discovered that instead of saving the Amazon, the Brazilian government is opting to fight against international pressure by constructing motorways, hydro-electric power stations, and bridges on forest land.
It is thought that these schemes are ultimately responsible for the unchecked wild-fires in the Amazon.
The Brazilian president claims that non-government organizations are trying to obstruct forest protection, and that these same organizations are using funds allocated towards forest protection to set forests ablaze instead.
He claims that this has all been done to slander the government’s reputation, but has cited no sources to back up his statement.
Describing the events of the forest fires, French President Emmanuel Macron has said that there should be an urgent discussion on the topic at the G-20 Summit.
In a tweet, he wrote: “Our house is burning.”
The Amazon rainforests, the “lungs of the planet,” produce over 20% of the Earth’s oxygen.
The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in Brazil, after reviewing satellite images, reported that the number of fires the Brazilian Amazon is 84% higher than that of last year.
This information is extremely alarming for the whole world. Bolsonaro, however, has exhibited no fear or concern, and proceeded to accuse organizations of lying instead.
Deforestation and overall environmental decline are on the rise, in line with the global rise of the political right and radical right-wing populists.
It seems that all they understand is business, agonizing over whether or not the GDP-GNP rises slightly, yet refusing to be concerned about the survival of various wildlife and habitats.
To them, notions such as nature’s capacity for revenge are nothing but idle romanticisms of university scholars.
And so, wherever populist, right-wing Neros reign as statesmen, the world will lose its elegance and vitality, and the environment will remain in constant jeopardy.
Redoun Nahid is a freelance contributor.