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You’ve Got to be Kidding

I find it really annoying, every time I read something about us deliberately destroying our planet. Now it’s the rainforest fire in Brazil, which we seems to be ruined, through the idiocy of a handful of people. More than half of the rainforest lies in Brazil, who claim they own it and we should all mind our own business. I think, however; they are merely stewards of this great reserve, not owners. Their responsibility is to maintain it so the rest of the world can benefit from its resources. It is a massive reservoir of carbon and is home to the largest concentration of biodiversity on the planet. It plays a major role in the region’s environment, and scientists are still learning how it affects the global climate system. Deforestation has been taking place recently at an alarming rate, to a point where scientists are now raising the alarm that if enough of the forest is lost, the ecosystem could collapse. Mining, logging, and agriculture industries started the vast majority of fires burning in the Amazon right now. After clearing an area of forest fires are ignited by farmers using slash-and-burn techniques to help put nutrients in the soil for crops. Others use fire to clear low-level vegetation to more easily access trees and the soil. Fires are also used by illegal loggers and miners to drive indigenous people off their lands. One of the biggest drivers of deforestation is cattle ranching. Brazil is now the world’s largest beef exporter. In 2018, these exports generated $6.7 billion for the country’s economy. Brazil is also the second-largest producer of soybeans in the world, and about 80 percent of the soy grown in the Amazon is used for animal feed. With China’s recent tariffs on US soybeans, China has increased its appetite for soybeans from Brazil. Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, has been found guilty of favouring mining companies when it comes to the environment. Just last week, hundreds of government workers signed a petition to Bolsonaro, saying their work protecting the Amazon has been undermined by his policies. His government is actively pursuing a campaign to weaken indigenous rights and block environmental protection programs, further degrading the rainforest. About 17 percent of the Amazon has been lost due to fire, and if that rises to 20 or 25 percent, the forest could cross a tipping point where there won’t be enough vegetation to move moisture through the ecosystem, causing it to degrade into savanna. Last week, President Bolsonaro said he would reject a $20 million aid package from G7 countries to help fight the fires across the Amazon rainforest. He later said he we would accept the offer if French President Macron apologized for criticizing his government. I don’t think it gets any dumber than this. The government of Brazil is allowing the destruction of one of our greatest resources and the person at the top wants an apology, otherwise, he won’t accept the aid money offered. You’ve got to be kidding. Jonathan van Bilsen is a published author, an award-winning photographer, columnist and keynote speaker. Follow his adventures at

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