The good news for conservationists and people who don’t see economic growth as the only way to live, is that we have woken up to reports that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has won the presidential election in Brazil. Apparently, it was razor tight.
With less than 2% of the votes left account, Lula led Bolsonaro by 1.6% of the votes. Lula had been imprisoned for corruption and money-laundering, but that conviction was quashed by the Supreme Court who found that it had been tainted by political motivation.
You can expect Bolsonaro to challenge the election result. He said that he’d stage a coup if he lost. He’s been called the “Trump of the Tropics”. And in line with Trump, he doesn’t like being defeated. Lula said that he wasn’t just facing Bolsonaro but the machinery that Bolsonaro had set up to defeat him.
It’s alleged that the police were involved in “voter suppression”. Voters couldn’t get to voting stations as the pro-Bolsonaro highway police conducted an abnormal number of routine searches.
The election result is good news for me because Bolsonaro is known to be the destroyer of the Amazon rainforest. I understand that there needs to be economic growth in Brazil in order to benefit the poor. If you grow the economy and create more money, there should be fewer poor people. ‘Should’ is the operative word.
Of course, there is a need for a strong economy in Brazil, but Mr Bolsonaro was actively encouraging the destruction of the rainforest which is for the world. And here’s the problem: the Amazon rainforest is ‘owned’ if you like by the world because it serves the world. It helps to reduce climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis.
Bolsonaro is a climate change denier. He wanted to burn down the Amazon rainforest to plant palm oil plantations et cetera. Any hope of meeting climate change targets depended upon cutting back on deforestation generally and in particular in Brazil.
On a separate topic, Greta Thunberg says that Cop 27 is a scam. She says that it is a gathering of leaders to green wash their political policies. They are there to pretend that they’re doing enough to stop global warming but there’s very few countries which are actually doing enough, on the ground, to meet agreed targets.
Bolsonaro is also referred to as “Captain Chain Saw”. In his two years as president, he has presided over the destruction of about 10,000 mi² of the Brazilian rainforest. This is perhaps the world’s most precious ecosystem.
Of course, Bolsonaro is proud of himself because he sees one goal: economic growth and he doesn’t believe in climate change.
Jake Schmidt, senior strategic director for climate with the National Resources Defence Council said: “If we can’t do something about deforestation in Brazil, then the 1.5 C target is probably out of reach.”
Bolsonaro has been destroying a 55-million-year-old natural wonder and it is one of the most biologically complex regions of the world. It is home to a tenth of all living plant and animal species.
For my part, I am concerned about the wildlife as well as the plants. Many animal species are supported by the rainforest including wild cat species.
Globally, about 300,000 mi² virgin tropical forests were destroyed between 2013 and 2019. One author describes this as the equivalent of clearing “more than five Manhattans every day for seven years.”
Bolsonaro’s removal is good for the world. He has done enormous damage, I would argue, to the world. The question is can Brazil keep him down and out and will the incumbent president, Lula, do something tangible to protect what remains of that gem of nature which belongs to the world in which Brazil needs to protect for the world.
P.S. My thanks to JEFF GOODELL of Rolling Stone dot com for some of this info.