Wild Amazon Faces Destruction as Brazil’s Farmers and Loggers Target National Park

Cattle graze beside the tree stumps that are all that is left of cleared Amazon forest inside the Sierra Ricardo Franco state park. Photograph: Jonathan Watts for the Observer

GR:  A few years ago, Brazil finally realized that cutting down the Amazon rainforest was causing drought, an effect that Alexander Von Humboldt explained two centuries earlier. The country made an effort to preserve its forest. Then we saw oil prices fall, rampant corruption exposed, and the wealthy had to shift their hungry eyes. The oligarchs replaced conservation sentiments with the old standby, harvest and sell natural resources. In Brazil’s case, this has often been irreversible logging or simply clearing for pasture of the ancient rainforest. The loss of indigenous and migratory wildlife is a sad example of how human greed is destroying the natural world.

I used Google Earth’s history function to show the forest’s destruction in around the Serra Ricardo Franco state park. You can see that destruction accelerated after 1993. It slowed between 2003 and 2013, but that’s because not much was left. Nevertheless, efforts are underway today to harvest the remnants.

Google Earth 12-30-1984.

Google Earth 12-30-1993.

Google Earth 12-30-2003.

Google Earth 12-30-2013

The excellent article below describes what’s happening now to the Amazon Rainforest.

“Today, orange dirt roads, cut into the forest by illegal loggers, lead you to the north-western flank of the elevated hilltop. Now called the Serra Ricardo Franco state park, this is nominally a conservation area set up with support from the World Bank. Instead of forest, however, you find swaths of land invaded by farmers, stripped of trees, and turned over to pasture for 240,000 cows. There are even private airfields inside the park’s boundaries, which exist on maps only.

“Far from being an isolated area where a wanderer might starve, this is now – despite its dubious legal status – one of the world’s great centres of food production. In recent months, it has also emerged as a symbol of the resurgent influence of a landowning class in Brazil who, even more than in the US under Donald Trump, are cashing in on the destruction of the wild.

“Locals say a member of President Michel Temer’s cabinet – chief of staff Eliseu Padilha – owns ranches here on hillsides stripped of forest in a supposedly protected park. The municipal ombudsmen told the Observer the cattle raised here are then sold – in contravention of pledges to prosecutors and international consumers – to JBS, the world’s biggest meat-packing company, which is at the centre of a huge bribery scandal.

“These allegations are denied by farmers but there is no doubt the government is easing controls as it opens up more land for ranches, dams, roads and soy fields to meet the growing appetite of China. Last year, Brazil reported an alarming 29% increase of deforestation, raising doubts that the country will be able to meet its global commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Rather than an aberration, this appears to mark a return to historical norms for a country that has been built on 500 years of land seizures that were later legalised by the politicians who benefited from them.

“The concurrent erosion of legal authority and natural habitat can be seen in many Brazilian states: the newest soy frontiers of Maranhão, Tocantins and Bahia; the hydropower heartland of Pará and the wild west mining and logging regions of Rondônia and Acre. But it is in Mato Grosso that the political forces behind deforestation – associated with corruption, violence, weak regulation and deliberate obfuscation of land ownership – reveal themselves most clearly.” –Jonathan Watts (Continue: Wild Amazon faces destruction as Brazil’s farmers and loggers target national park | World news | The Guardian.)

The endangered Tatu-bola Armadillo, the mascot of the 2014 World Cup is disappearing along with many other inhabitants of the forest (belizar73/Getty Images/iStockphoto).

Brazil halves environment budget amid rising Amazon deforestation | Climate Home – climate change news

GR: Of today’s 12 lead stories in my climate newsletter, The Atmosphere News, 3 stories were either optimistic or neutral and 9 were pessimistic or bad. The ‘bad’ story below is worth noting because of the years of back-and-forth over Amazon rainforest protection. I think it illustrates what happens to nature when human problems arise. Nature may “bat last,” but it gets that last-word only after a long string of strikeouts.

Environmental budget cuts come as pressure to convert the rainforest into pasture is intensifying (Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT)

In a bid to contain a growing budget deficit, the government has slashed the funding to enforce forest protection laws

“The Brazilian government is cutting its environment ministry budget by 51% as part of a bid to limit the country’s spiralling deficit.

“The cuts come as deforestation rates are rising, driven by demand for timber, soy and beef. The Amazon region saw a 29% increase in forest clearance last year, according to preliminary data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute.

“It is an even steeper drop in spending than the 31% Donald Trump’s administration is proposing for the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“The environment ministry oversees the agency responsible for enforcing laws to protect the forest. Sharp spending cuts risk weakening its capacity to carry out inspections, warned NGO Observatorio do Clima.

“Other ministries hit by the austerity drive include transport, tourism and planning, budget and management. Certain programmes have been protected under the government’s “growth acceleration programme”.

“The move comes among reports that Brazilian government environment and land policy is being swayed by a dominant pro-beef caucus.” –Megan Darby (Continue: Brazil halves environment budget amid rising Amazon deforestation | Climate Home – climate change news.)

100,000 may have died but there is still no justice over Indonesian air pollution

GR: No family should have to endure such heartbreak because some company is pursuing profits at all costs. The tragedy extends even farther than reported here. People can breath through a rag and clean their food. Wild animals can do neither. Moreover, the smoke is from burning wildlife habitat. It’s no surprise that the World Wildlife Fund reports global loss of 60% of all the Earth’s animals since 1970. The total loss is expected to reach 67% by 2020.

“It started with a mild cough. Muhanum Anggriawati was just 12 years old when the cough began, transforming within weeks into a violent hacking that brought up a yellowish-black liquid.

“At the end of last year, her father told an Indonesian court how she had been taken into hospital, and treated with oxygen therapy, then with a defibrillator. Nothing, however, had worked. After a week on a breathing machine, she died in the hospital, her lungs still full of the foul mucus.

“Anggriawati is believed to have been one of many victims of the haze, or air pollution, that regularly spreads across Indonesia because of the huge deforestation fires linked to palm oil and other agribusiness.

“The Global Fire Emissions Database reports that in 2015, fires in Indonesia generated about 600m tonnes of greenhouse gases, which is roughly equivalent to Germany’s entire annual output.

“The smoke contains dangerous chemicals such as carbon monoxide, ammonia and cyanide. A study by Harvard and Columbia universities revealed that the haze may have caused the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in south-east Asia in 2015. The authors estimated that there were 91,000 deaths in Indonesia; 6,500 in Malaysia and 2,200 in Singapore.” –Elodie Aba and Bobbie Sta. Maria (More: 100,000 may have died but there is still no justice over Indonesian air pollution | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian.)

Armed with smartphones, Cameroon forest defenders take on illegal loggers

GR: Around the world, legal and illegal resource use is destroying wildlife habitat, eroding soils, and polluting water. Earth has been no match for humans, either those believing they are practicing sustainable harvest, or those just wanting wealth.

“KADEY, Cameroon, In an innovative push to combat illegal logging and the corruption that enables it, community volunteers in Cameroon are being trained to use smartphones to take geo-tagged images of freshly cut stumps and relay the information to the authorities.

“Under a partnership between the government and environmental groups, young people are using satellite-linked phones to document tree-cutting in areas where logging is not allowed.

“They can then upload the photos and make toll-free calls to report the suspicious activity, not just to the police and forest ministry, but also to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, said Bangya Dieudonne, a forestry and wildlife official in Kadey, in the country’s East Region.

“Getting these three institutions informed makes it difficult for forest exploitation criminals to bribe their way through,” he said.

“Training frontline forest defenders aims to reduce illegal deforestation, which is depriving the government of billions of CFA francs in income, hurting communities that make their living from the forest, and making the country more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, officials said.

“With corruption continuing to hamper forest management, new and stronger measures are needed, Dieudonne said.

“So far, more than 100 people have been trained as community “forest defenders” in the East Region and other areas where logging has been especially prevalent, officials said.” –The Local Africa News (More: Armed with smartphones, Cameroon forest defenders take on illegal loggers • The Local Africa News.)

We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years

GR:  Deforestation is a major cause of climate change and of biodiversity decline, extinction of amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Economists and agritechnologists talk of reversing it now, but even in the U. S., forest harvest continues. In poorer countries, the immediate needs for cash and land for crops is not going to end with the advent of more productive crops and efficient farming methods. Such symptom treatments will not end deforestation. It will not stop until we reverse human population growth. Of course, reducing need isn’t the only problem, we might also have to control our greed, a much more difficult task.

Likouala-aux-Herbes river near in Congo-Brazzaville. The Congo Basin is the world’s second largest tropical forest. Photograph: Hope Productions/Yann Arthus Bertrand / Getty Images

“If you want to see the world’s climate changing, fly over a tropical country. Thirty years ago, a wide belt of rainforest circled the earth, covering much of Latin America, south-east Asia and Africa. Today, it is being rapidly replaced by great swathes of palm oil trees and rubber plantations, land cleared for cattle grazing, soya farming, expanding cities, dams and logging.

Rainforests are home to more than half of the world’s animals. Photograph: Getty Images

“People have been deforesting the tropics for thousands of years for timber and farming, but now, nothing less than the physical transformation of the Earth is taking place. Every year about 18m hectares of forest – an area the size of England and Wales – is felled. In just 40 years, possibly 1bn hectares, the equivalent of Europe, has gone. Half the world’s rainforests have been razed in a century, and the latest satellite analysis shows that in the last 15 years new hotspots have emerged from Cambodia to Liberia. At current rates, they will vanish altogether in 100 years.

About 12% of all man-made climate emissions now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas

A logging mill in the Amazon Basin, Peru. Photograph: Jason Edwards/Getty Images/National Geographic Magazines

“As fast as the trees go, the chance of slowing or reversing climate change becomes slimmer. Tropical deforestation causes carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to linger in the atmosphere and trap solar radiation. This raises temperatures and leads to climate change: deforestation in Latin America, Asia and Africa can affect rainfall and weather everywhere from the US Midwest, to Europe and China.

“The consensus of the world’s atmospheric scientists is that about 12% of all man-made climate emissions – nearly as much as the world’s 1.2bn cars and lorries – now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas. Conserving forests is critical; the carbon locked up in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 150m hectares of forests are nearly three times the world’s global annual emissions.” –John Vidal (Continue reading:  We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years | John Vidal | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian.)

Help Save the World

Block Trump. Declare World War on Global Warming and Other Human Impacts on Nature

Our Problem

desert-earth

Earth could join Mars as a dry, lifeless derelict.

Scientists report that growth and spread of humanity together with rising global temperature are causing declining biodiversity, rising seas, growing storms, intensifying drought, spreading disease, and much more. The reports, made by observers all over the world, are like the thunder ahead of a storm that threatens the safety of our families, our friends, our civilization, and all life on our planet. We know it’s coming. Without a massive effort by the people of the world, the storm will grow until terrible destruction ruins our planet. We and all other life may be lost.

Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration statements and cabinet choices make it clear that he will add to global warming and every other negative human impact on Earth.

The Earth continues turning, but if we don’t exert some self-discipline there might one day be no minds that know or eyes that see.

 

Global warming and human population growth are the destructors. They are greater even than fear, hate, and desire;

Together, they threaten humanity and all life on Earth.

Polls show that sixty-four percent of Americans believe global warming is occurring. The number is growing. When the first distant rumbles occurred, we said, “Ah, it might help if we quit burning so much coal, oil, and gas.” Later we said, “Hmm, maybe we need to quit clearing so much land for cities and farms.” And as the danger loomed, we added to the list of things we should do. But we haven’t done much, and the danger has arrived. We are even beginning to realize that the coming storm might be self-sustaining. Global warming might have passed the point at which we can stop it. Seas and soils are warming and releasing their stores of carbon, and the great glaciers are melting and exposing open water. Warming might continue even if we halt all burning and building.

Why War?

Global Warming is at the brink and looking down the slip face of runaway self-sustaining increase beyond our control. The research shows that global warming is already rotting organic matter stored in the tundra and on the ocean floor. Global warming is increasing evaporation and humidity. Global warming is causing soil microbes to release carbon. Methane (CH4), water vapor (H2O), and soil carbon (C in various forms) are joining carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning and are all working together to trap more of the incoming solar energy. The buildup of these gases appears to have taken us past the point at which we can prevent the great storms, droughts, and rising seas. By adding CH4 and H2O to CO2, we are unleashing an exponential spiral that will end human civilization in decades, not centuries. And not far beyond that, end all life on Earth.

overpopulationEven if there was no greenhouse gas and global warming, the spreading human population will eventually wipe out most life on Earth. Already, more than half of all animals are gone, replaced by humans. Family planning, like cutting greenhouse gas, has become an emergency requirement for sustaining life on Earth.

I can’t quite bring myself to believe that our civilization will end within decades. I still believe that we could stop global warming if we make a total effort.

Saving the Earth–The Citizens’ Call Campaign

The Citizens

Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming. The U. S. adult population totals 242+ million (over age 18). Sixty-four percent equals 154+ million.

The Actions

For those with concern for the future of society and their children, I find it intolerable to say that we must wait and see what happens. Instead, I have a proposal for action:

Leadership in the U. S. and most other nations is not responding to the growing human impact and the global warming threat. I propose that we declare a citizens’ war on the behaviors causing the impacts and threats. We can begin by forcing our elected leaders and our business leaders to organize and lead the war on warming and population growth. We need their help to convert the world’s industries, economies, and societies to the needed total effort to save Earth and us.

Other thinkers are saying the same thing. Here’s Michael Moore’s action plan:

And here is a list of more actions we can take.

Our local action group is forming now and will try to make visits to some of our representatives next week.

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

GR:  This CNN Photo/Video/Data essay has high-quality images and interviews.  Recommended.

“Frogs, coral, elephants — all are on the brink. Three quarters of species could disappear. Why is this happening? CNN explores an unprecedented global crisis.” –CNN (Continue:  The extinction crisis is far worse than you think)

Deforestation: $906B At Risk Via ‘Domino Effect’ On The Supply Chain

GR:  Awareness of the coming disaster is creeping up on the perpetrators. Forecasters predicted an economic decline long ago. It results from the careless treatment of the elements of natural ecosystems as commodities and from the short-sighted business imperative of “growth at all costs.”  Read more here.

“No wonder Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risk has lain hidden for so long. Now that businesses are regularly being encouraged to look closer at their supply chains and disclose it, the implications are alarming: for businesses, investors and the planet. A new study released today reveals that, on average nearly a quarter (24%) of global company revenues depends upon four commodities linked to deforestation: cattle products, palm oil, soy and timber products. That translates, it says, to $906 billion in annual turnover potentially at risk.

A view of recently land clearing for palm oil plantation of the peatland forest inside Singkil peat swamp Leuser ecosystem, habitat of Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) in Iemeudama village on November 13, 2016 in Trumon subdistrict, South Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. The Orangutans in Indonesia have been known to be on the verge of extinction as a result of deforestation and poaching. Indonesia approved palm oil concessions on nearly 15 million acres of peatlands over the past years and thousands of square miles have been cleared for plantations, including the lowland areas that are the prime habitat for orangutans. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

“This $906 billion figure has been calculated by looking at the percentage of revenues publicly listed companies say is dependent on the commodities they reported on.

“The companies include big names, like Cargill, Kraft Heinz Company, Starbucks and Marks & Spencer, and global commodity traders Archer Daniels Midland and Bunge. CDP, formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, is an international, not-for-profit organization. Its new report Revenue at risk: why addressing deforestation is critical to business success analyzes data disclosed by 187 companies in 2016 – often for the first time – on their deforestation risk management strategies.

“Who is behind the report? Some 365 investors representing $22 trillion. Deforestation leads to some 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, as Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP, points out in his foreword to the report. Addressing deforestation is therefore critical to delivering a sustainable post-2020 global economy.” –Dina Medland (Continue reading:  Deforestation: $906B At Risk Via ‘Domino Effect’ On The Supply Chain)

Climate Change Will Stir ‘Unimaginable’ Refugee Crisis

GR:  Climate change will destroy human civilization as it delivers the final blow to Earth’s biosphere. Already we have lost half our wild plant and animal life and extinction rates are rising. In earlier mass extinctions, the planet lost near ninety percent of its species. This time could be worse. With continued human population growth, development, environmental destruction, and global warming, our species will join all the others and undergo massive turmoil and decline as our resource, the Earth’s biosphere declines. Though some have forgotten it, our species is dependent on a steady, healthy biosphere.

“Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of “unimaginable scale,” according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the “new normal”.

“The generals said the impacts of climate change were already factors in the conflicts driving a current crisis of migration into Europe, having been linked to the Arab Spring, the war in Syria and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.

“Military leaders have long warned that global warming could multiply and accelerate security threats around the world by provoking conflicts and migration. They are now warning that immediate action is required.” –Danian Carrington (More:  Climate Change Will Stir ‘Unimaginable’ Refugee Crisis | Climate Central).

Deforestation spikes in Brazilian Amazon

GR:  Growing global inequity is fueling resentment and despair. As inequity and the human population grow, resources decline, poverty spreads, and criminal destruction and harvest of wild plants and animals may increase.

“In the Amazon, Illegal land clearing hits highest levels since 2008 as environmental policies come under attack.”

People burn parts of the Amazon to make way for farms or ranches.

“Illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has spiked since 2015, bringing the rate to its highest level in 8 years. The finding has raised fears that the country could lose a decade’s worth of progress in forest protection.

“In an analysis of satellite data released on 29 November, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in São José dos Campos estimates that 7,989 square kilometres of land — nearly the size of Puerto Rico — was cleared between August 2015 and July 2016. The total was 29% above the previous year and 75% above the 2012 level, when deforestation hit a historic low of 4,571 square kilometres (see ‘Going up’).

“The current trends illustrate a growing sense of impunity as well as betrayal among landowners who have yet to benefit from the sustainable-development agenda, says Daniel Nepstad, a tropical ecologist who heads the Earth Innovation Institute, an environmental organization in San Francisco, California. “There’s been a lot of talk about improving the lives and the bottom lines of farmers and ranchers if they stop clearing the forest,” Nepstad says, “and they are still waiting.” –Jeff Tollefson  (Continue reading:  Deforestation spikes in Brazilian Amazon : Nature News & Comment)