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  • Rovindu Ambagolla

Triple Bottom Tuesday>>>A Scorched Earth– Deforestation in the Amazon in Exchange for Consumer Goods

Picture Credit:Alfred Kenneally

The Amazon rainforest stretches throughout South America for an astounding 5.5 million km². A magical kingdom defended by a perimeter of strong and sturdy trees, it’s a haven for wildlife to flourish, and a place where they need not be worried about human intervention. However humans have chipped away at this magnificent kingdom for decades because they long for a different kind of green, money.

The Amazon rainforest has been subjected to a harsh barrage of deforestation, and it is being fueled by a political lust for economic growth. President Jair Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 when he won 46% of the votes in Brazil, since then he has been a persistent advocate for deforestation and privatisation of the Amazon in the name of economic prosperity. A Bloomberg report stated, “members of Bolsonaro’s inner circle show that Brazil’s government is engaged in an active campaign to open up the Amazon to privatisation and development”.

Under the current administration, the average size of deforested areas has increased by an astounding 61% and wildfires have increased to the highest numbers ever recorded since 2007. The Brazilian government turns a blind eye to such behavior and grants the people who initiate it amnesty. The government also actively cuts the budgets for Brazilian government organisations who try and defend the Amazon rainforest from deforestation.

Picture Credit: Sippakorn Yamkasikorn

But the issue runs deeper. Deforestation has become engrained into Brazilian culture as the only way forward to lead a comfortable life. In the 1970’s the “Brazilian Miracle” was a period of exponential economic growth in Brazil. During this period the government started handing out pieces of land from the Amazon to farmers and encouraged millions of people to claim the land in the Amazon. Their moto was “a land without men, for men without land”. This drove a massive migration of people into the Amazon to claim this land. The incentive that was initiated back in 1970, still persists today, senior editor at Bloomberg Jessica Brice commented “It is very much in the Brazilian culture that in order to prosper, you need to have land”.

But we are also to blame for the activities fueling deforestation in Brazil. One of the biggest reasons for deforestation is to meet the growing demand for commodities. It is important to understand that deforestation isn’t done simply to attain materials like wood, but also to create space for farming, and amongst them, cattle farming, which is especially prominent in Brazil. It is estimated that 70% of deforestation in Brazil was to make space for large scale cattle farming, because the world consumes almost 130 billion pounds of it every year, and the numbers just keep growing.

Picture Credit: Feliphe Schiarolli

Jessica Brice comments “What the world is really telling these people is, we will pay you to burn down the Amazon, because we will buy everything that you are selling us”.

October 05

th 2021 | 2.00 PM

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