"Scientists warn new Brazil president may smother rain forest

From Phys Org
November 26, 2018 by Christina Larson And Mauricio Savarese

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This May 8, 2018 photo released by the Brazilian Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources Institute (Ibama) shows an illegally deforested area on Pirititi indigenous lands as Ibama agents inspect Roraima state in Brazil’s Amazon basin. Scientists warn that Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro could push the Amazon rainforest past its tipping point by loosening environmental protections, with severe consequences for global climate and rainfall. (Felipe Werneck/Ibama via AP)

Scientists warn that Brazil’s president-elect could push the Amazon rainforest past its tipping point—with severe consequences for global climate and rainfall.

Jair Bolsonaro, who takes office Jan. 1, claims a mandate to convert land for cattle pastures and soybean farms, calling Brazil’s rainforest protections an economic obstacle.

Brazil contains about 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest, and scientists are worried.

It’s nearly impossible to overstate the importance of the Amazon rainforest to the planet’s living systems, said Carlos Nobre, a climate scientist at the University of Sao Paulo.

Each tree stores carbon absorbed from the atmosphere. The Amazon takes in as much as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year and releases 20 percent of the planet’s oxygen, earning it the nickname “the lungs of the planet.”

It’s also a global weather-maker.

Stretching 10 times the size of Texas, the Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest. Billions of trees suck up water through deep roots and bring it up to their leaves, which release water vapor that forms a thick mist over the rainforest canopy.

This mist ascends into clouds and eventually becomes rainfall—a cycle that shapes seasons in South America and far beyond.

By one estimate, the Amazon creates 30 to 50 percent of its own rainfall.

Now the integrity of all of three functions—as a carbon sink, the Earth’s lungs, and a rainmaker—hangs in the balance.

On Oct. 28, Brazilians elected Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate who channeled outrage at the corruption scandals of the former government and support from agribusiness groups. His election came weeks before an international summit in December where leaders will discuss how to curb climate change.

On the campaign trail, Bolsonaro promised to loosen protections for areas of the Brazilian Amazon designated as indigenous lands and nature reserves, calling them impediments to economic growth. “All these reserves cause problems to development,” he told supporters.

He has also repeatedly talked about gutting the power of the environmental ministry to enforce existing green laws.

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In this May 4, 2018 photo released by Ibama, the Brazilian Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources Institute, members of a specialized inspection group of Ibama walk with their weapons up through an area affected by illegal mining, after landing in helicopters in Munduruku indigenous lands in Para state in Brazil’s Amazon basin. On the campaign trail, President-elect Jair Bolsonaro promised to loosen protections for areas of the Brazilian Amazon designated as indigenous lands and nature reserves, calling them impediments to economic growth. (Vinicius Mendonca/Ibama via AP)

“If Bolsonaro keeps his campaign promises, deforestation of the Amazon will probably increase quickly—and the effects will be felt everywhere on the planet,” said Paulo Artaxo, a professor of environmental physics at the University of Sao Paulo.

Bolsonaro’s transition team did not respond to an interview request from the Associated Press.

Brazil was once seen as a global environmental success story. Between 2004 and 2014, stricter enforcement of laws to safeguard the rainforest—aided by regular satellite monitoring and protections for lands designated reserves for indigenous peoples—sharply curbed the rate of deforestation, which peaked in the early 2000s at about 9,650 square miles a year (25,000 square kilometers).

After a political crisis engulfed Brazil, leading to the 2016 impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff, enforcement faltered. Ranchers and farmers began to convert more rainforest to pastureland and cropland. Between 2014 and 2017, annual deforestation doubled to about 3,090 square miles (8,000 square kilometers). Most often, the trees and underbrush cut down are simply burned, directly releasing carbon dioxide, said Artaxo.

“In the Brazilian Amazon, far and away the largest source of deforestation is industrial agriculture and cattle ranching,” said Emilio Bruna, an ecologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.Now observers are parsing Bolsonaro’s campaign statements and positions as a congressman to anticipate what’s next for the Amazon.

Bolsonaro—who some call “tropical Trump” because of some similarities to U.S. President Donald Trump—is a former army captain with a knack for channeling outrage and generating headlines. As a federal congressman for 27 years, he led legislative campaigns to unravel land protections for indigenous people and to promote agribusiness. He also made derogatory comments about minorities, women, and LGBT people.

Much of his support comes from business and farming interests.

“These farmers are not invaders, they are producers,” said congressman and senator-elect Luiz Carlos Heinze, a farmer and close ally of Bolsonaro. He blamed past “leftist administrations” for promoting indigenous rights at the expense of farmers and ranchers.

“Brazil will be the biggest farming nation on Earth during Bolsonaro’s years,” said Heinze. Indigenous-rights advocates are worried about the new direction signaled. “Bolsonaro has repeatedly said that indigenous territories in the Amazon should be opened up for mining and agribusiness, which goes completely in the opposite direction of our Constitution,” said Adriana Ramos, public policy coordinator at Social Environmental Institute in Brasilia, a non-governmental group.

In a Nov. 1 post-election interview with Catholic TV, Bolsonaro said, “We intend to protect the environment, but without creating difficulties for our progress.”

Bolsonaro has repeatedly said that Brazil should withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, a treaty his predecessor signed in 2016 committing to reduce carbon emissions 37 percent over 2005 levels by 2030. After the election, he has publicly wavered.

Read the full story here.

HT/Marcus

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72 thoughts on “"Scientists warn new Brazil president may smother rain forest

    • I assume these are ‘political scientists’ because otherwise why would anyone listen to scientists talking about politics?

    • Nothing stirs up anger among intelligent people who care for each other and the planet, than a greedy Richie who will likely make millions under the table and destroy native Brazilians’ land because he’s a racist. Him and Trump are like the strongest and fattest people in a room full of food, holding their gigantic portion away from all the others with some excuse

      [???? .mod]

      • Tshane3000

        Nothing stirs up anger among intelligent people who care for each other and the planet, than a greedy Richie who will likely make millions under the table and destroy native Brazilians’ land because he’s a racist.

        Your first comment here, but it needs a few corrections.

        Nothing stirs up anger among intelligent people who care for each other and the planet, than a greedy Richie liberal billionaire or millionaire extortionist like Gates, Bloomberg, Steyer, Clinton, Soros, Gore, Pelosi, Cuomo, Rockefeller who will likely absolutely make more billions under the table and destroy native Brazilians’ land because he’s a racist liberal extremist who is only satisfied by killing hundreds of millions and destroying the lves of billions of the poor and starving, dying for lack of cheap fossil fuels.

  1. The seeming trust in government by the left and the greens, very often an overlapping characterization, is misguided. As government cannot really pay attention to everything, any attempt to manage any resource will be badly done.
    If the Native groups were actually organized, and not just an excuse for the bureaucrats, actually had control, their areas might actually be well managed. But the characterization of reservations is limited ownership, with the purported owners not actually having real rights over that property.
    Bolsonaru has the issue of dealing with a few decades of leftists, with the result that not enough people have property rights not impaired by previous policies.
    My contention is that ownership is the basis of resource management, not command economies. Contrast the old Soviet Union with Western Europe or the US on “ecologicial degradation”.

    • Every country that plays the native rights game shafts not only the general citizenry but hoi polloi natives as well. Primitive cultures are called “primitive” for a reason, a distinction not lost upon the victims of the schemes that keep them “on the rez”.

        • So your definition of a “well managed” area is one that doesn’t burn? I’m pretty sure any place with trees can burn. But why would it matter what the inhabitants of any property do. It’s their land/area. If the Amazonian natives want to use it for whatever they want, nobody should have the right to take it from them.

          Are you saying the government has the right to take someone’s property if they deem it not “well managed?”

          • No, it means a fairly regular low intensity burn, or the equivalent mechanical clearing of brush and litter.

  2. They’re right – CAGW is a skeptic “snarl-word” that is not accurate. Indeed, a better replacement would be GEFM – the Global Eco Fascist Movement. The GEFs are filled with self-righteous certainty that they are God’s appointed colonial – imperial rulers of the whole world. Seems they’re displeased with the natives in Brazil.

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    Keats, “Second Coming”

  3. ”By one estimate, the Amazon creates 30 to 50 percent of its own rainfall.”.. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the trees grow there in the first place because of the topography and tropical climate which attracts the rainfall?
    Also, not that I would like to see the rain forests disappear but wouldn’t grasslands be more efficient in storing carbon? I mean in a rain forest wouldn’t it be carbon neutral with the emissions of CO2 from rotting vegetation on the forest floor as well as the rot within old growth trees cancelling out the carbon stored in the trees? And what about the carbon stored in the timber products, doesn’t that count as well?

    • Trees whose wood is denser than water should be cut down and dropped into the deepest oceans where they won’t rot. Or made into furniture which will be treasured for generations. Otherwise, a stable forest just releases as much CO2 by decomposition as it absorbs.

    • aussiecol, you’re asking great questions. Somehow the wood turned into useful things and stored “permanently” in a house doesn’t count as carbon sequestration. I remember reading a report about the rotting going on at jungle floors consuming a lot of oxygen, and the greens turning their attention to the far north conifer forests as the lungs of the planet. Everybody, don’t worry about the Amazon Rainforest. I flew over it going from Santiago, Chile to Madrid, Spain and I have never seen such a large tract of land, at night, without a single light shining anywhere.

      • Thanks guys, I suspected the same answers. Here in Tassie the greenies are hell bent on trying to stop logging our native forest and locking it all up all in the name of ‘saving the planet’. However I fear we could see a repeat of the devastating fires witnessed recently in California. More to the point the wild fires we had here in 1967 where 62 lives were lost. But hey trees are more important than human lives and short term memories are a curse.

    • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the trees grow there (Amazon) in the first place because of the topography and tropical climate which attracts the rainfall?

      “Yup”, you are correct, the Amazon is situated within the “rain shadow” of the Andes Mountains.

  4. In recent decades, hasn’t the biggest destroyer of the rainforests has been destructive green efforts to grow biofuels – sugarcane ethanol in Brazil and palm oil biodiesel in SE Asia?

    • Now, now Allan.

      No need to suggest the greens are a disorganised bunch of ignorant ideologues meddling in things they have no care for, nor concept of how they work, just to save their own skins, maintain themselves in comfortable, well paid non jobs, whilst infesting the gullible and weak minded with socialist (nay fascist) beliefs so the poor stay poor, and are instructed to be grateful for being poor, and the wealthy elite flourish whilst ensuring the poor maintain their gratitude of serfdom. Pointing out this political system is not the way forward for humanity as it’s been a disastrous failure wherever it has been implemented is simply hitting below the belt old chap.

      I’m surprised at you Allan, you should have kicked the b’stards in the bollox and made a proper job of it. You’re becoming far too reasonable in your old age. 🙂

  5. Much of the Amazon deforestation was done through subsidies paid to farmers to grow sugarcane for Brazil’s stupid and economy-killing ethanol program.

    It’s much cheaper, sustainable and economically advantageous for Brazil to exploit their massive oil and natural gas reserves for domestic/export markets, and to grow soybeans and other crash crops (not sugarcane), or to use reclaimed land to increase beef production.

    If market-distorting farm subsidies are eliminated, the market is perfectly capable of efficiently allocating land, labor and capital on rainforests to assure rainforests are best utilized.

    • The sugar cane program, was a simple Workfare, giving jobs to a lot of otherwise unemployed & thus starving & very unhappy people. Starving & very unhappy people, tend to riot & bring governments down.

      • Most of the time, government “make work” programs end up destroying jobs, not creating them.
        It’s just that the jobs that are destroyed are dispersed throughout the economy and thus hard to identify. While the jobs created are concentrated and easy for politicians to point to.

      • Adam-san:

        Government make-work jobs destroy economies because they terribly misallocate limited land, labor and capital which could have been used much more wisely, efficiently and effectively by the private sector to create real jobs, new technologies, industries, and profits.

        Please read Bastiate’s Broken Window Fallacy on this.

        • Keynes assumed that there were huge pile of money sitting around in rich people’s bank accounts, and that if the government seized and spent this money, it could increase economic activity.
          The problem was, like everything else, Keynes was wrong about this. The reality was, what money was in rich people’s bank accounts was just resting in transit from project to another.
          Rich people get rich by making their money work for them, not by allowing it to sit around in bank accounts.

          • Besides which, money doesn’t just sit around in bank accounts. The banks put that money to use (via loans) which generates economic activity – so even when it is “sitting in a bank account” it’s still being put to work. For money to not be “in transit from (one) project to another”, the rich person would have to be stashing it under his mattress or in the walls of his mansion or some other hidden location where it would then be idly sitting, doing nobody any good. And not many rich people got rich by doing that.

    • Samurai, get your facts right. Sugarcane is produced in Brazil’s southern, subtropical area. Amazon is located in the north of the country, where the Equator lies. The forest that was cut for sugarcane (and coffee, and city building, etc) production was the Atlantic forest, which was almost 100% cleared. The amazon forest is being cleared for soy and cattle production.
      About the ethanol program being stupid: not necessarily. Brazil has developed the technology for this kind of fuel for some decades now. It is still not cheaper than petrol, but at least is an alternative when things go empty (fossil fuels will not last forever). And sugarcane can be used for, lo and behold, sugar production! People still use this a lot, do you know?

      • If it’s more expensive, then it’s stupid. Period.
        Yes fossil fuels will run out someday, however that day is hundreds of years in the future.
        That problem will be solved with technology we can’t even dream of today.
        Any sugar cane that is being used for fossil fuel, can’t also be used for sugar.

        The smart thing to do is to be as efficient as possible, in order to create as much wealth as possible. That way our kids, their kids, (and so on) will have the resources they need to solve their problems.

        Making ourselves poor benefits nobody, especially not our kids.

  6. I’m not a greenie, totally opposite in fact. I do not believe in GAGW, but come on guys, surely none of you want to see the rainforest destroyed. Can’t we pay him to desist?

    • Polarised, reflexive, unthinking auto-opposition. If something reduces the greenies to tears then it must be good. Pay el-presidente? Sounds like a recipe for blackmail. I’d tactically try to buy the land from existing owners.

    • jolan

      Who are we to tell him how to manage his country and its resources for our benefit?

      We have been chucking money at Africa for generations with no meaningful change, what good is doing the same to Brazil?

      Indeed, Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of Africa, is a barren wasteland since the self announced Marxist Mugabe kicked out the predominantly white farmers running the country along Colonial lines.

      • H.S
        Surely saving the rainforest is to everybodys benefit. I am not suggesting we tell him how to run his country but a little, or large bribe might help. Under the counter perhaps. There’s trillions wasted on this global warming scam

    • The forest isn’t destroyed. It grows back very quickly in a wet environment like that. Check out the first picture and notice how close the small trees are to some of the log piles. Those trees probably weren’t there when they stacked those logs, and those piles look to be 15-20′ high.

    • The rain forest isn’t being destroyed. Small portions of it have been cut down.
      This is typical leftwing/green over reacting and hyperventilating.

      • Small portions? It’s about 20%… that’s not small. If this arrogant small minded fool gets his way, it will soon be 40%.

  7. Re the photo above with choppers and pistols,
    The area affected by all mining, legal or illegal, it a tiny pinprick in a vast landscape.
    You can fly over the land for hours, seeing trees, but scarcely if ever seeing a mine.
    Although tiny land users, operating mines contribute 100 times, sometimes 1000 times, the economic value of other land uses. Then they are closed and rehabilitated, so that other land uses can continue.
    Mining is land use Royalty. It is the tops.
    The untruthful greens who portray it as harm are not to be believed.
    Geoff

    • Right on Geoff! See my reply to aussiecol above, such a large and desolate tract of the earth is hard to imagine. Remember miners form two groups, those legally permitted and complying with the rules and the illegal ones. The difference is the same as withdrawing money from your account in a bank and just robbing the bank.

  8. This one always tickles my fancy.
    Japan has lots and lots of good timber.
    Japan uses lots and lots of timber as a building material (more than most other countries).
    Japan obtains its timber from Indonesia.
    Indonesia rapes and pillages forests for timber.
    The World’s Green movement says little or nothing about this.
    Could it be that Indonesia is run by the mozzies (the new found friends of the lunatic left)?

  9. Do we assume/guess that about 30,000 years ago, A Civilisation, on a large island growing a lot of trees, wanted to ‘increase their production’. Of food.
    Because trees are not good places for humans to find & gather food, *unless* they move around a lot, the humans cut down some trees. And burned a whole load more. By some magical process, it seemed to make even more ‘stuff’
    It seemed to work, they got more food, made more people out of it.
    AND, it avoided the tedious business of having to keep moving around looking for stuff
    AND it enabled members of their population to become artists, religious types and politicians.

    For a while.
    Then they found that still had to move, to a place with some fresh trees.
    OK. Fine. Lets do it. The space we’re leaving will grow more trees anyway.
    They always keep ‘just popping up’ out of the ground. *Everybody* knows that.
    Fan Tas Tic

    After some number of millennia, they found they’d gone ‘full circle’ and when they did, there were not any new trees waiting to be cut, slashed and burned.

    To This Very Day, nobody understands why that was.
    Oh No, yes they *do* know
    The Climate Changed. That’s it. Simples
    The Climate had *nothing* to do with the trees that were there and their removal, by us, could not possibly have anything to do with it.
    The sunspots did it
    The Gods were displeased. How did we know that if not via our religious leaders? Cosy huh.
    The cosmic rays did it.
    Mankovich did it
    The arctical vortess had a mody dodal tipping inversion point and *that* did it
    A comet came, and went
    Ozone did it.
    ‘Cycles’ did it
    Ol Nono did it
    Jet stream did it.
    The over toning mody dodal circulation Julian turning over turning Rosby Cellulations over and over did it.
    30 years ago.
    No. Make that 100 years ago.
    Mmm, maybe 500 years ago. That right, 500+ years so that no-one can remember
    And anyone who can, lock them into reservations, give them religion, give them soda pop, pizza, alcohol, Trash TV and guns.
    Turn them into drug sozzled junkies, just like us.
    (haha. Doncha just love those Sentilese folks. Put an arra thro the chest of religion before it even opened its mealy little mouth. Epic. Simply epic.)

    Hardly relevant.
    Vast numbers of the people died. And that was it.
    A few managed to hang on.
    We call them ‘Aborigines’ and their place ‘Australia’

    So what?

    I say ‘what’ because the exact same story repeated in what is now Gobi Desert, what is now Sahara desert, what is now Arabian Desert (AKA Garden of Eden or Fertile Crescent), what is now Kalahari desert etc etc etc

    Isn’t it strange that the Little Ice Age, (recorded in and by the only place to make any sort of reliable temperature measurement the CET) occurred not long after the incumbent King of England (and daughter that succeeded him) effectively cleared the forest?
    To build War Machines as advised by his religious ‘adviser’

    No. The trees didn’t have anything to do with. The Little Ice Age happened because ‘Climate Always Changes’
    Everybody knows that for any and all of the reasons listed above.
    Even before it goes in cycles.
    Yeah right.

    Get the picture?
    Not nice is it?

    • The trees in Easter Island were destroyed when European explorers brought rats to the island.
      The rats ate the seeds of the trees.
      It’s a complete myth that the islanders cut down all the trees.

      • There you go – white males again! A good group to place blame on – they can’t object without being racists.

        Seriously, Easter Island is a mystery and there is no simplistic explanation as to the people who lived there, why they did what they did, and why they aren’t there any more. Everyone has a theory but no proof. Not unlike climate change.

    • The Sahara desert formed when climate shifted as the world warmed out of the latest ice age. It had nothing to do with man.

      • Agreed but the peripheral semi-desert areas around the Mediterranean have been even more desertified by nomadic herders and their goats. The Israel-controlled part of the Sinai is closed to the nomads and their goats, and it’s starting to get greener. You can see it from space (on Google Earth). Fossil fuels not to blame!!

  10. “By one estimate, the Amazon creates 30 to 50 percent of its own rainfall.”

    Anybody studied what is the influnce of the man-made windmill “forests” on the rainfall in CA and Europe?

    • Yes but…According to a study focusing on the Brazilian Atlantic forest, certain aspects can return surprisingly quickly – within 65 years. But for the landscape to truly regain its native identity takes a lot longer – up to 4000 years.

  11. Notice how concern for the Amazon was strictly off the table for discussion internationally before this President elect came along. I wonder why.

  12. It is really unfortunate that the Leftist focus so heavily on Climate Change. In this case, their focus on CAGW undermines the real environmental reasons to preserve the rainforest. In fact it changes the narrative to one where the destruction of the rainforest is more likely.

    I oppose us cutting down the rainforest. I’ve seen the devastation of the timber industry here in the south to flora diversity. Diverse mixed forest replaced by monoculture pine. As an avid Jeeper, I subscribe to leave no trace. Thus I advocate for leaving as much of the natural world in tack as possible. There is plenty of terra for “farming” trees, we don’t need to cut down the rainforest.

    But the lefts insistence that the rainforest is all about climate change is a guarantee that they are toast.

  13. We keep relearning the lesson but usually only after disasterous consequences:

    Attempting to completely ban something which you cannot stop abdicates all control over the activity. By making mining and logging completely illegal in the Amazon, you end up with completely unregulated activities which cause serious damage. If you permit it on a controlled basis you get to set limits on the damage.

    Example: Prohibition of the sale of alcohol in the United States.

  14. 1. This “tipping point” garbage is getting old. Seriously, it’s not believable and you look foolish trying the ruse. (I read that something like 20 to 30% cutting destroys the whole forest. No, that’s just crazy talk.)

    2. If you don’t want the forest cut, figure out a way to make it more profitable standing than cutting it. This about money. Everything is about money. Stop standing there preaching and grow up. It’s about money. Dela with it.

  15. I’m going to play the troll here and introduce this for anyone interested to debunk. Save the defamations of Penn State because we’ve heard them already.

    Loggers cut out the best timber for domestic use or export, and in the process knock over many other less valuable trees. Those trees are eventually cleared and used for wood pulp, or burned, and the area is converted into cattle pastures. After a few years, the vegetation is sufficiently degraded to make it not profitable to raise cattle, and the land is sold to poor farmers seeking out a subsistence living.

    Regardless of how poor farmers get their land, they often are only able to gain a few years of decent crop yields before the poor quality of the soil overwhelms their efforts, and then they are forced to move on to another plot of land. Small-scale farmers also hunt for meat in the remaining fragmented forest areas, which reduces the biodiversity in those areas as well.

    https://www.e-education.psu.edu/geog30/node/395

  16. So, based on the fact that President Elect End-Of-The-World is still ‘elect’ the logical assumption is that the illegal logging and mining has occured under the ‘current’ laws.

    The next step here is to conclude the current laws don’t actually work at protecting the rainforrest.

    So… by possibly removing these laws President Elect End-Of-The-World is making things worse?

  17. Being skeptical of CAGW is one thing -actually celebrating the destruction of the Amazon rainforest just to stick it to the ‘greenies’ is downright ghoulish. You’re not winning any friends by being this petty and peevish.

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