Jair Bolsonaro, Emmanuel Macron.
Asad Rehman, The Independent
As the fires in the Amazon rage into their third week, with smoke blanketing the city of Sao Paolo and even visible from space, the world’s attention has been belatedly sparked with the hashtag #AmazonFires trending globally. The INPE which tracks deforestation in Brazil found 1330 square miles of rainforest have been lost since January alone. An increase of 40 per cent on the previous year.
It has also sparked a war of words between the French President Macron and Brazilian President Bolsonaro. Macron called the Amazon fires an international crisis, tweeting: “Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rain forest – the lungs which produces 20 per cent of our planets oxygen – is on fire” and called for it to be put on the agenda for the upcoming G7 meeting in Biarritz. A call that subsequently got the backing of German chancellor Angela Merkel.
In a feat of linguistic gymnastics worthy of Donald Trump himself, Bolsonaro, an avowed fascist, accused Macron of sensationalising and meddling in Brazilian affairs “a colonial mindset”.
There is no doubt that the fires which were started deliberately to clear more land for agriculture have been done by those emboldened by a president who has traded in racism and promoted powerful corporate interests.
On being elected, backed by a powerful coalition of agribusiness, the military and evangelical churches, he has set out to fulfill his promise to rip up the protection of indigenous lands, which he views as an impediment to the economic development of the country’s natural resources.
But for the indigenous peoples of Brazil the choice shouldn’t be between the reactionary and violent agribusiness lobby supported by the fascist regime of Bolsonaro or the global neoliberal elite represented by Macron, who both represent an equally devastating threat to the Amazon and its communities.
In the last century one fifth of the Amazon, about 300,000 square miles, has been cut and burned in Brazil. Scientists have warned that losing another 1/5 of the Amazon will trigger the feedback, in which the Amazon will dieback, effectively killing the “lungs of the world” but also leading to the effective genocide of the indigenous peoples who call the region their home.
But the G7 leaders aren’t innocent bystanders in the destruction of the Amazon. It’s their neoliberal policies that have fuelled the destruction of the Amazon. It has been unfettered corporate power and the mantra of deregulation which sacrifices both the planet and its people for profit – the hall marks of the failed neoliberal economic experiment – which has fuelled not only the climate crisis but also the crisis of inequality which has led to the rise of far right and fascist leaders – not just Bolsonaro, but Trump, Modi and many others.
The Amazon fires are as much the responsibility of industrial agribusiness as they are Bolsonaro. They have fuelled the destruction of habitats worldwide as they create a global trade in food commodities, much of it destined to feed the citizens of the richest countries in the world.
These companies not only influence the policies of Brazilian politicians, but also sit in the capitals of some of the G7 countries. Like the fossil fuel companies they have captured our politicians.
If Macron is serious about the climate crisis, he and the other G7 leaders would have long ended their subsidies to the fossil fuel companies, industrial agribusiness and would be committing to zero carbon emissions by 2030. All the hot air from G7 leaders will be nothing but grandstanding while the Amazon burns.
Neither the fascist right nor the neoliberal centre have the answer to our environmental crisis. The only hope lies with people who should be pointing out the real criminals are not just those setting the fires in the Amazon but those in our banks, corporations and supermarkets who profit from this broken food system.
Four firefighters were hospitalised after battling the overnight blaze at Badim Hospital and about 90 patients were transferred to other hospitals, according to the fire department. Authorities said that a short circuit in a generator could have sparked the blaze.
The fire broke out at dusk on Thursday at the Badim hospital in the north of Rio, sending medical staff and relatives into a desperate flurry to try to evacuate scores of patients.
Two C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying thousands of liters of water on Sunday began dousing fires devouring chunks of the world's largest rainforest.
Bolsonaro responded on Sunday to a Facebook post that compared the looks of his wife Michelle, 37, with Macron's 66-year-old wife Brigitte. "Do not humiliate the man hahahah," Bolsonaro wrote, in a comment widely criticised as sexist.
The Amazon in South America is the largest, most diverse tropical rainforest on Earth and it is natural that the entire world is worried and angry over the worst blazes in years raging there. It is hugely important that the fires in the Brazilian rainforest, known as the lungs of the planet, be extinguished as quickly
It has been the most serious mishap in more than 20 years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the site of the crash, met the rail officials, and talked to people who were getting treatment in hospitals.
The unfortunate collision of two Indian passenger trains in Odisha state in which nearly 300 people died and hundreds are injured is so painful (“Indian train collision death toll nears 300,
Last month, my bosses suggested I quit Twitter for a week. Completely. I would not be able to log on, let alone tweet or retweet others or check for direct messages.