amazon the lungs of the world burn friday

Posted by deaguero at 2020-02-16

Amazonas The rainforest may seem remote to us, but it is the foundation of life on our planet, and it is endangered as never before

Forest fires in Tocantins, Brazil

Photo: Xinhua/Imago Images

The Amazon is the center of the world. Now that the climate is threatening to collapse, there is no more important place. If we do not get this into our heads, we will not have the chance to overcome the challenges of the climate crisis.

This place has been in ruins for 500 years. First of all, the European conquest, which brought with it a particularly destructive culture, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people and led to the extinction of dozens of peoples. Recently, by uprooting huge forest areas, including all life in them.

Eliane Brum is a Brazilian journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker. She lives in the Amazon

2019 is the beginning of a new, disastrous chapter. The area of deforestated forests has risen above average this year. In July, the deforestation rate per day corresponded to an area the size of Manhattan, every two weeks approximately that of the Ruhr area. Fires are destroying the Amazon forests at record speed, which is most likely due to land-reclamation practices. But why is all this happening right now? Because of Bolsonaro.

This totalitarian policy, Bolsonarism, has seized almost all power in Brazil. President Jair Bolsonaro's main focus is to destroy the Amazon forest quickly and methodically. For this purpose alone, Brazil has for the first time since the restoration of democracy basically had an anti-environment minister.

Never before has an Environment Minister been granted more rights than Ricardo Salles. He himself is an accomplice of the agricultural industry. The industry responsible for most of the deaths in the fields and forests. It is Brazil's most destructive force. Now it is true that the large landowners'lobby has always been part of the Brazilian government, whether official or not. But under Bolsonaro a new level has been reached: the landowners are not only in the government, they are the government.

Indigenous protests against Bolsonaro and for the preservation of its habitat

Photo: Sergio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

One of the main concerns of Bolsonarism is to transform public land, which serves everyone, because it guarantees the preservation of natural biomass and the lives of the indigenous peoples and, at the same time, regulates the climate, into private property from which few profit. These areas, most of which are in the Amazon, include areas where indigenous peoples have the constitutional right to live. Regions inhabited by Ribeirinhos, people who have been living for over a century with fish, rubber extraction and the collection of nuts and other forest products, as well as the collectively used areas of the Quilombolas, the descendants of rebel slaves, who violated their right to the territories occupied by their ancestors.

Bolsonarism does not need Bolsonaro

Disputes are ubiquitous in the government, also because it is part of the Bolsonaro administration's strategy to simulate its own opposition in order not to leave a position to another party. Nevertheless, there is a broad consensus on loosening the protection zones of indigenous peoples. When it comes to turning the largest tropical forest in the world into a place for cattle breeding, soya and archaeology, the war cries of war are silent. Anyone who deviates will be removed from government.

Bolsonarism goes far beyond the man whose name he bears. At some point, even without Bolsonaro, it could work itself out. Bolsonarism affects the entire Amazon region. It brings to light democratic ends that have been hiding in the dark holes of other Latin American countries for years, if not decades, and in which the fate of the world's largest tropical forest is also decided. Bolsonarism is not only a threat to Brazil, but also to the whole planet, and we cannot say this often enough. It is destroying those forests that are crucial to the fight against the climate crisis.

But how can we defend ourselves against these cunning, destructive powers? To defend ourselves, we must become like the forest, and defend ourselves like he who knows that it is broken. Who carries both what he is and what he is no longer. We must give this political feeling a form in order to make sense of our actions once again. This means that we have to move some tectonic plates in our thinking. We need to decolonize.

The fact that the Amazon is still regarded as something remote, something on the outer edge of civilization, shows how stupid white Western culture is. It is an idiocy that shapes and determines the political and economic elites of the world and Brazil. Believing that the Amazon is far away, on the edge of the world, when at the same time the only chance to get the climate crisis under control is to keep the forest alive, reflects an ignorance on a global scale. The forest is the heart of everything we have. He is the true home of mankind. The fact that many of us feel distant from him only shows how enlightened, deranged and distorted our view is. It's colonized.

Illegal logging is the norm in Brazil

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

In the great cities of Brazil and the rest of the world, we are far from those deaths for which our smallest everyday actions are complicit. We have the privilege of not constantly having to ask where the clothes we wear come from or where the food we eat comes from. But if you eat beef here in the Amazon, you know very well that this meat has been grubbed for. When you buy wood, you know that in Brazil (almost) there is no legal anymore. When you buy furniture, you know that the material used for the production is very likely to come from indigenous protected areas or commercial reserves. In the Amazon region, in the centre of the world, the connection between the death of the forest and the death of the people who live and live in it is very close, and it cannot be overlooked.

The Amazon is the center of the world

It is we who must humbly ask whether and how we can support the forest peoples in their struggle. It is they who must live in it despite the destruction of the forest. It is they who have the experience of resisting this destruction. If we want to have a chance at a resistance movement, we have to understand that we are not the main protagonists in this fight.

We have to get used to a different way of dealing with our planet. A treatment that is no longer marked by violence, as it was in the colonisation of the Amazon and the people living there. Not even this chapter of history is over; on the contrary, colonisation is still advancing at an ever-increasing rate. It's time we started living in harmony with nature. No matter how far away everything seems to be often to us, in the long run it is not. Everything we do comes back to us. And if not for us, then for our children and children's children.

Bolsonaro is not just a threat to the Amazon. He is a threat to the entire planet, precisely because he is a threat to the Amazon. In the face of the unbroken will to destroy Bolsonarism, we must all, regardless of nationality, be equal to the rebel slaves who once aspired against their oppressors. We must form bands, as the escaped slaves of Brazil once did. And since we ourselves do not know how to do that at all, we must be humble enough to learn from those who already do.

The best thing about Bolsonaro-Brazil and the whole Amazon region are the peripheries, which now want to get to the centre. Our best chance of fighting for the future of the entire planet is to show solidarity with this very centre of the world.