Amazon Deforestation Rate Highest in 11 Years
The latest figures come from Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE). Using satellite data, the agency concluded that the forest lost 9,762 square kilometers (approximately 3,769 square miles) in the year leading up to July 2019. The number represents a 29.5 percent increase compared to the previous year and the highest deforestation rate since 2008.
INPE / Notícias - A estimativa da taxa de desmatamento por corte raso para a Amazônia Legal em 2019 é de 9.762 km² https://t.co/uFMsnTJUNs— INPE (@INPE)1574109361.0
It is also the most conclusive proof to date that deforestation is on the rise under far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, The New York Times reported. Bolsonaro has cut funding for key agencies that help protect the rainforest and reduced enforcement against illegal mining, logging and ranching.
"The Bolsonaro government is responsible for every inch of forest destroyed. This government today is the worst enemy of the Amazon," Greenpeace public policy coordinator Marcio Astrini said in a statement reported by Reuters.
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rose to its highest in over a decade this year, government data on Mond… https://t.co/c1PEwnyAqZ— AMAZON WATCH (@AMAZON WATCH)1574162521.0
Brazilian environmental group Climate Observatory said that the increase was the third highest in Brazil's history, following spikes in 1995 and 1998, The Guardian reported. But this time, the government seemed less likely to act on the data.
"In a break with what occurred in previous years during which the rate rose, this time the government did not announce any credible measures to reverse the trend," the group said in a statement reported by The New York Times.
In a break with previous denials, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles did acknowledge the deforestation increase and promise action, Reuters reported. He blamed illegal mining, logging and ranching for the rise, and said he would meet with the governors of Amazon states on Wednesday to discuss strategies for fighting deforestation. But he did not outline any detailed plans for curbing illegal forest-clearing, The New York Times pointed out.
The news follows a global outcry this summer after INPE reported a record number of fires burning in the forest this August. The new figures do not account for forest lost from August to October, Reuters pointed out, when initial data indicates deforestation rates more than doubled compared to the same time period last year.
The Amazon rainforest is considered crucial for fighting the climate crisis because it stores massive amounts of carbon. Some scientists fear that if enough forest is cleared, a tipping point will be reached and the forest will transform into savanna, which does not store as much carbon.
"We must remember that the Amazon has been undergoing deforestation for decades," Oyvind Eggen, the secretary general of the Rainforest Foundation Norway, said in a statement reported by The New York Times. "We are approaching a potential tipping point, where large parts of the forest will be so damaged that it collapses."
However, Climate Observatory Executive Secretary Carlos Rittl told The Guardian he was concerned deforestation would only increase under Bolsonaro.
"Proposals like legalising land-grabbing, mining and farming on indigenous lands, as well as reducing the licensing requirements for new infrastructure will show that the coming years will be even worse," he said. "The question is how long Brazil's trading partners will trust its promises of sustainability and compliance with the Paris agreement, as forests fall, indigenous leaders are killed and environmental laws are shattered."
- Norway Freezes $33.2M Transfer to Brazil's Amazon Fund Amid ... ›
- Amazon Deforestation Rate Hits 3 Football Fields Per Minute, Data ... ›
- Amazon Rainforest Could be Two Years from Irreversible 'Tipping ... ›
- Thom Yorke of Radiohead Releases Song With Greenpeace to Help ... ›
- Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, Flea and More Featured on Just Released ... ›
- Musicians and Activists Unite at 'Pathway to Paris' - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A national park in Thailand has come up with an innovative way to make sure guests clean up their own trash: mail it back to them.
- Supermarkets in Thailand and Vietnam Swap Plastic Packaging for ... ›
- Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It ... ›
- Thailand Begins the New Year With Plastic Bag Ban - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Worsens Thailand's Plastic Waste Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Marium, Thailand's Beloved Baby Dugong, Is the Latest Victim of ... ›
By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
- 7 Republicans Joined Senate Democrats in Vote to Fight Climate ... ›
- Climate Change Acknowledged by Increasing Number of ... ›
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Fauci Warns Pre-Pandemic Normalcy Not Likely Until Late 2021 ... ›
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.