Since assuming office at the top of the year, Bolsonaro has enacted a series of environmental policies geared toward destroying the Amazon rainforest and opening the excavated land up to agribusiness and other developments. A climate change skeptic, he has continuously criticized the existence of indigenous lands, claiming they prevent Brazil from reaching its full economic potential.
More tracking of the #wildfire smoke, this time from @NOAASatellites 🛰— WMO | OMM (@WMO) August 22, 2019
Space observation of our Earth and our atmosphere underpins weather forecasts, early warning of hazards and analysis of #ClimateChange trends.pic.twitter.com/QIaO2F8PNZ
In response to the National Institute for Space Research reporting an 84% increase in Amazon deforestation this year over last year and Brasilia’s unwillingness to combat it, German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze halted some €35 million ($38 million) in funds designated for sustainability projects in Brazil earlier this month.
Norway reacted similarly days later by suspending its contributions to the country’s Amazon Fund, totaling around €29.8 million ($33 million), according to the Associated Press.
Canadian author and journalist Arnold August joined Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary on Thursday to discuss Bolsonaro’s consistent rejection of science and what this may mean for the future of Brazil.
August pointed out that proposed changes in Brazil’s environmental policy at the hands of Bolsonaro had been public knowledge since the start of his presidential campaign.
“He has openly stated that he supports the Trump policy on climate change - that he will withdraw or not honor the Paris Agreement, which he has done since being elected,” the journalist told hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon. “One of the main features of his environment policy … is to allow further exploitation of the Amazon region to mining and other companies.”
Furthermore, August, referencing researchers and statistics, asserted Bolsonaro’s “deforestation policy is directly connected to the spike in forest fires.”
Bolsonaro, however, rejected similar claims on Wednesday, saying the fires were started by nonprofits angered by budget cuts. While drought is a key cause of Amazon wildfires, the Brazilian president maintained they were jump-started by humans “to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil.”
It’s worth noting that wildfires have historically been illegally ignited by humans in the region in order to deforest land for cattle ranching, and it’s the opinion of some local indigenous tribes that ranchers are at least part of the cause of the present conflagration that is consuming their reservations.
The Amazon rainforest provides 20% of the world's oxygen. People are deliberately starting fires in effort to illegally deforest land for cattle ranching. President Bolsonaro is letting this slide!! #AmazonRainforest #PrayforAmazonas pic.twitter.com/9pWraNgWu6— hannah 🚀 (@negativiq) August 21, 2019
“I think that he’s cornered, and he’s trying to get out of the situation by accusing others of something that he himself is responsible for,” August contended.
In addition to wildfires brought on by deforestation, Brazil’s part of the global food chain is also being assaulted by pesticides. Within the past three months, over half a billion bees have died in the country - and once again, researchers link the alarming occurrence to Bolsonaro.
A 2019 investigation conducted by Greenpeace’s environmental news team Unearthed found that the country has exhibited a 27% increase in pesticide use since Bolsonaro assumed office in January. In fact, Brazil has become the world’s leading purchaser of weed- and pest-killing chemicals.
Even with the Brazilian president receiving global pushback from environmental activist groups like Extinction Rebellion and added pressure from world leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bolsonaro remains set on not accepting responsibility for the environmental destruction that’s occurring.
These alarming environmental concerns, coupled with Bolsonaro’s coziness with US President Donald Trump - which almost resulted in a US military base and troops in Brazil - may do irreversible damage to the Latin American country.
“Can the Brazilian people wait until 2021?” August questioned in reference to the country’s next presidential election.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.