No es fuego es Capitalismo

Large parts of the Amazon rainforest are on fire – to an extent that in the Brazilian megacity of Sao Paulo, the skies were darkened, the street lights switched on in the afternoon, and the sun itself appears eclipsed – a truly apocalyptic scenario that can be seen on NASA satellite images.

Across Brazil, more than 70,000 fires have been detected this year so far, with a frequency of 9,507 new forest fires over a four day period – this marks an 83% increase over the same period last year. Illegal logging for mining and cattle grazing is the likely cause.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president who vowed to open up (= destroy) the Amazon for development, bizarrely blames NGOs who are critical of his government for the surge in forest fires. His incendiary rhetoric threatens the land, livelihoods and lives of Brazil’s indigenous people.

In response to the Bolsonaro government’s continued efforts to crush conservation efforts, Germany and Norway cut millions of Euros to the Amazon Fund, to which they were the main contributors. However, conservation funding cuts are unlikely to steer Brazil away from its ecocidal – and potentially genocidal – course.

There are much larger fish to fry.

The recent surge in forest fires happens just after the conclusion of the free trade agreement negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur, the economic and political bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela, in June this year.

Given the vital role of the Amazon to the earth’s changing climatic systems as ‘lungs of the earth’, all eyes should be on Brazil – and solidarity funds should flow towards the upsurge in indigenous resistance to Bolsonaro’s policies.

Instead, funding flows towards the destruction of the Amazon instead. The report “Complicity in the Destruction”, commissioned by Amazon Watch, outlines that the same soya, cattle and timber companies  responsible for illegal deforestation, and who are, in some cases, employing slave labour, are openly negotiating with, and receiving funding from, three main trading partners China, the EU and USA. The report names 23 importing companies, including the giants Bunge, Cargill and Northwest Hardwoods.

In June this year, indigenous and international campaign groups called on the EU to halt negotiations for an EU-Mercosur free trade agreement in an open letter, and also demanded a guarantee that no Brazilian products sold in the EU, nor the financial markets underpinning them, are leading to increases in deforestation, land grabbing of native lands or human rights violations, demand that the Brazilian government fulfills its commitments as part of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, increase support for Brazilian civil society and monitor and respond to human rights violations.

Even though the negotiations have come to a close, the EU could refuse to ratify the trade deal. While we’re still a member of the EU, we have a chance to lobby our MEPs to put pressure on the EU to stop fanning the funding of the flames.What we are witnessing is the far right causing large-scale ecocide, and possible genocide, via aggressive agribusinesses, enabled by neoliberal trade policies. These are the times we live in.

Our economic systems and trade agreements are incentivising the ultimate destruction of our life support systems – and we are all complicit. The Amazon rainforest fires cannot be extinguished by water alone, but only by tackling the economic root causes of the disaster unfolding around us.

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  1. Michael says:

    “The Amazon rainforest fires cannot be extinguished by water alone, but only by tackling the economic root causes of the disaster unfolding around us.”

    Thanks goodness someone is talk about the financial and economic causes of the mass destruction of our natural world. This burning of The Amazon rainforest is disturbing to the core. It reminds me of the scene in Lord Of The Rings where Saruman chops down the trees to build his war machine. In the film he says:

    “The old world will burn the fires of industry. The forests will fall. A new order will rise. We will drive the machine of war with sword and the spear and the iron fist of the orc. Do you know how the orcs first came to being? They were elves once, taken by the dark powers, tortured and mutilated. A ruined terrible form of life.” – https://youtu.be/7Y37OqrbUoE?t=78

    Thanks Bella for publishing something about the real and tangible ecological disaster that is going on all around us.

    Excellent to get away from banging on about the infinitely contestable, useless and dis-empowering concept of “climate change”, which was cooked up by the global elites to distracting and divert us from focusing on the causes of this unfolding ecocide. An ecocide demanded by our monetary and financial systems. Climate change has been an amazingly successful ruse to, at one and the same time, get us put a lot of energy into clamouring for change to the psychopaths that are benefiting from the current system, and at the same time, convince us that handing them more power to their centralised institutions is the only way to deal with their ecocidal ways. Lets stop talking about “climate change”, and lets start talking about tangible issues, there causes and solutions.

    First off, how do we change the monetary/financial/military system (and the insane fear based psychology of those in charge of it) that drives all this madness? And how do we start taking meaningful power back into our own hands, so we can make changes, without having to appeal for change to the psychopaths that are responsible for putting it all in place in the first place ?

  2. Jim Stamper says:

    While I don’t disagree with all the proposals there is perhaps something missing. As mentioned the trade deal France and Ireland want to block if Brazil don’t take action that trade deal has environmental implications. Many western countries have and continue to benefit financially from industries destroying the environment e.g. oil and gas, coal, fracking etc. But none benefit financially from protecting the environment and retaining rain forests that produce a crucial commodity – oxygen. An arrangement should be set up, possibly by the UN to do this.

    1. Svenja says:

      It may seem utopian, but it seems that the natural capital discourse of treating vital aspects of ecosystems as commodities and services won’t get us away from and challenge the economic mentality that got us into the global predicament we’re in.

  3. Madeleine says:

    Thank you for covering this with truth and integrity, unlike the rest of the international media.

  4. Svenja Meyerricks says:

    Image credit: @giovanamedeiros / @designativista

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