Blowing in the wind - GulfToday

Blowing in the wind

Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro. File

Is the Brazilian president finally feeling the heat of Amazon fires? He seems to be singing a new tune. “The protection of the forest is our duty,” said Bolsonaro after international pressure forced him to take action. And he did so by sending in the army (“Bolsonaro to send army to contain Amazon fires”, Aug. 24, Gulf Today).

Isn’t he the same Bolsonaro who had earlier described rainforest protections as an obstacle to Brazil’s economic development? He rebuked critics and journalists by saying that the Amazon belongs to Brazil and he will do what he deems fit. He told a foreign journalist last month that

“The Amazon is ours, not yours”. He has even gone on to say that nongovernmental groups could be behind Amazon fires because of supposed government cuts in wildlife funds.

Mounting global pressure may have forced him to act, but will there be any serious sincerity in tackling the issue? Or will it be mere eyewash?  Bolsonaro since coming to power last year had made his intentions clear, that of economic growth. And deforestation is on top of his agenda.

Reports state that so far this year there have been as many as 74,000 fires, an 84 per cent increase from the same period last year and the highest number for any year since 2013. So the large columns of smoke billowing in the Amazon are sending some serious signal. Unless international pressure is exerted, the Amazon which houses over a million indigenous people from up to 500 tribes face grave danger, not forgetting the rich plant and animal biodiversity which will be lost forever.

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

Ralph R

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