Opinion | Could the Amazon Save Your Life? – By Mark J. Plotkin – The New York Times

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Dr. Plotkin is an ethnobotanist who has spent more than three decades working in the Amazon.

This article is part of the Opinion series The Amazon Has Seen Our Future, about how the people of the region are living through the most extreme versions of our planet’s problems.

“Western medicine is the most successful system of healing ever devised and is becoming more so as technology improves and synthetic medicines proliferate. But Mother Nature has been synthesizing weird and wonderful medicinal chemicals for over three billion years, many of which chemists could not predict or devise in their wildest dreams.

They should go to the Amazon.

Over more than three decades, I’ve worked, collaborated and lived with the forest’s shamans as I learned some of their secrets. In the dreamscape of Amazonia flourishes an abundance of astounding species of plants and animals that have provided society with a pharmacopoeia of medicines of astonishing range, from contraceptives to treatments for high blood pressure and malaria, a dental analgesic and surgical muscle relaxants and chemicals that expand the mind.

The region is so vast and impenetrable that much within it remains undiscovered. No wonder the richness of the landscape and the impressive medicinal knowledge of the Indigenous peoples inspired bewilderment and wonder in early visitors from Europe.

As early as the 1600s, the Dutch physician Willem Piso observed several “very effective” local treatments in Brazil, writing, “These Indigenous people, in spite of their total lack of scientific training, have passed on many noble, secret antidotes and medicines unknown to classic science to the next generation.”

Opinion | Captain Chain Saw’s Delusion – By Chris Feliciano Arnold – The New York Times

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Mr. Arnold is the author of “The Third Bank of the River: Power and Survival in the Twenty-First-Century Amazon.”

This article is part of the Opinion series The Amazon Has Seen Our Future, about how the people of the region are living through the most extreme versions of our planet’s problems.

“Amid political strife and smoke visible from space, the future of the Amazon has rarely been so hazy. Environmentalists see a vanishing rainforest of global consequence. Indigenous leaders see an ancestral home still being exploited by settlers after 500 years of genocidal violence. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, sees valuable acreage wasted by “cave men” and Marxists.

Sixty percent of the world’s largest tropical forest lies within Brazil’s borders, and since 2006 I’ve traveled thousands of miles in the Amazon, witnessing how the river and its people have experienced a century’s worth of ecological and cultural change in a generation. For a few weeks last year, record-setting fires in the region focused the world’s attention with an intensity reminiscent of the Save the Rainforest campaigns of the 1980s, but this year, the land is burning during a pandemic that has interrupted travel, stymied environmental protection efforts, and emboldened miners, loggers and ranchers to encroach on Indigenous land with impunity.”

Opinion | Amazon 4.0. How to Reinvent the Rainforest – By Bruno Carvalho and Carlos Nobre -The New York Times

By Bruno Carvalho and 

Bruno Carvalho is a scholar of urbanization. Carlos Nobre is a climate scientist.

This article is part of the Opinion series The Amazon Has Seen Our Future, about how the people of the region are living through the most extreme versions of our planet’s problems.

Rainforests are unique ecosystems of immense complexity that nurture an incredible diversity of plants, animals and micro-organisms. Bulldozers and chain saws don’t care about that.

Some people think of rainforests as faraway places that have little to do with their day-to-day existence. But millions of people live in cities and settlements throughout the Amazon. Many endure precarious conditions and become sources of cheap labor. The forest is sometimes destroyed in their name, with the justification that it develops and improves the economy. In Brazil, deforestation rates are breaking records. And if we continue to destroy the forest, we can expect dire consequences — not just for the region, but for the planet.

Over the past 50 years, human intervention has been increasingly disrupting the ecological balance of the Amazon. Climate change has led to an increase in temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius across the basin, and to more frequent severe droughts. The droughts of 2005, 2010 and 2015-16 were among the worst in more than 100 years. Since 1980, there’s been an increase in the duration of dry seasons by three to four weeks in the more degraded areas of the Amazon.

Opinion | How to Help Brazilian Farmers Save the Amazon – By Daniel Nepstad – The New York Times

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Dr. Nepstad is a forest ecologist who has worked in the Brazilian Amazon for more than 30 years.

Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

“When I moved to the Amazon “Wild West” town of Paragominas in northern Brazil in 1984 as a young scientist studying forest recovery on abandoned pastures, I expected a town filled with bandits and land grabbers. Instead, what I mostly found were courageous, hard-working families from across Brazil who had come to the rugged town of sawmills, cattle ranches and smallholder settlements to improve their lot in life.

But as the global outcry over recent Amazon fires and the rise in deforestation has demonstrated yet again, the stigma surrounding Amazon farmers as accomplices in this destruction remains, making enemies of would-be allies.

Indeed, outrage over the fires and President Jair Bolsonaro’s rhetoric and actions obscures a central question: Can responsible, law-abiding landholders and businesspeople in the Amazon — like those I met in Paragominas — compete with people who break the law, grab land and forest resources and drive much of the deforestation?

The simple answer is no. And until that changes, it will be difficult to stop the cutting and burning of these forests, which worldwide account for about a tenth of the carbon dioxide emissions that are warming the planet. But two recent developments suggested things may be changing for the better.

One turn of events was the decision by the California Air Resources Board in September to endorse — after 10 years of design and debate — a Tropical Forest Standard that could protect the forests of the Amazon and beyond. The standard sets rules for state, provincial and national governments in the Amazon to limit deforestation so that they can qualify to sell credits to companies seeking to offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions.

This standard is designed to make sure that the carbon offsets that companies are buying are actually going to real, verifiable deforestation efforts. What’s significant about the standard is its size — it focuses on recognizing and rewarding successful forest conservation across entire states, provinces or even nations in the Amazon. Moreover, and this is critical, it includes principles for guaranteeing that indigenous groups and other local communities have a voice in the policies and programs that are developed.”

‘The Amazon Is Completely Lawless’: The Rainforest After Bolsonaro’s First Year – The New York Times

Photographs and Video by 

Written by 

“RIO DE JANEIRO — When the smoke cleared, the Amazon could breathe easy again.

For months, black clouds had hung over the rainforest as work crews burned and chain-sawed through it. Now the rainy season had arrived, offering a respite to the jungle and a clearer view of the damage to the world.

The picture that emerged was anything but reassuring: Brazil’s space agency reported that in one year, more than 3,700 square miles of the Amazon had been razed — a swath of jungle nearly the size of Lebanon torn from the world’s largest rainforest.

It was the highest loss in Brazilian rainforest in a decade, and stark evidence of just how badly the Amazon, an important buffer against global warming, has fared in Brazil’s first year under President Jair Bolsonaro.

He has vowed to open the rainforest to industry and scale back its protections, and his government has followed through, cutting funds and staffing to weaken the enforcement of environmental laws. In the absence of federal agents, waves of loggers, ranchers and miners moved in, emboldened by the president and eager to satisfy global demand.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
In a sane United States, we would act to stop the desecration of the Amazon rain forest, as an important part of our national security. We would talk with allies, and work with them, and if necessary, overthrow the Bolsonaro government, for reckless endagerment of the future of human and non human species.
(David blogs at InconvenientNews.net.)

As Amazon Fires Become Global Crisis, Brazil’s President Reverses Course – The New York Times

By Ernesto LondoñoManuela Andreoni and 

“RIO DE JANEIRO — As an ecological disaster in the Amazon escalated into a global political crisis, Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, took the rare step on Friday of mobilizing the armed forces to help contain blazes of a scale not seen in nearly a decade.

The sudden reversal, after days of dismissing growing concern over hundreds of fires raging across the Amazon, came as international outrage grew over the rising deforestation in the world’s largest tropical rain forest. European leaders threatened to cancel a major trade deal, protesters staged demonstrations outside Brazilian embassies and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products snowballed on social media.

As a chorus of condemnation intensified, Brazil braced for the prospect of punitive measures that could severely damage an economy that is already sputtering after a brutal recession and the country’s far-right populist president faced a withering reckoning.

On Friday, he said that he was planning to send the military to enforce environmental laws and to help contain the fires starting Saturday.”

Opinion | The Amazon on the Brink – By Philip Fearnside and Richard Schiffman – NYT

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By Philip Fearnside and Richard Schiffman
Dr. Fearnside is an ecologist based in Brazil; Mr. Schiffman is an environmental journalist.

Sept. 26, 2018

The Trump administration is not the only government that has been busy slashing funds for environmental protection. Brazil has been doing the same.

While Mr. Trump makes no bones about his desire to roll back environmental laws, Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, a signatory of the Paris climate agreement, has sent mixed signals. To his credit, Mr. Temer pledged in Paris to cut his country’s carbon dioxide emissions 37 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

His actions since then tell a different story. Last year, the Environment Ministry’s budget was cut nearly in half, as part of a national austerity plan amid Brazil’s punishing recession. And the agency responsible for protecting Brazil’s vast system of indigenous reserves is being virtually dismantled by draconian staff cuts.

via Opinion | The Amazon on the Brink – The New York Times

David Lindsay:: Behaviors similar to what are described here have occurred in Iran, which is turning into a dessert . In a century or two, Brazil might be in Iran’s predicament. US military intelligence predicts that Iran will have 50 million climate change drought refugees in the next 30 to 50 years. Brazil too, could turn itself into a dessert.

Opinion | The Men Who Terrorize Rio – The New York Times

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — More than two months have passed since the assassination of Marielle Franco, a human rights defender who was a member of Rio’s City Council. But the killing remains unsolved. The most probable hypothesis, according to Brazil’s public security minister, Raul Jungmann, is that local militias were behind her death.Militias in Brazil are different from paramilitary groups in other countries. Their origins here can be traced back to the 1970s, the days of the military dictatorship, when off-duty police officers formed death squads to execute criminals and political opponents, according to José Cláudio Souza Alves, a sociologist who studies the groups.

The Genocide of Brazil’s Indians – The New York Times

“SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — On April 30, a group of ranchers armed with rifles and machetes attacked a settlement of about 400 families from the Gamela tribe, in the state of Maranhão, in northeastern Brazil. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council, an advocacy group, 22 Indians were wounded, including three children. Many were shot in the back or had their wrists chopped.

Soon after the attack, the Ministry of Justice announced on its website that it would investigate “the incident between small farmers and alleged indigenous people.” (Minutes later, the word “alleged” was removed.)”