Brazil’s Bolsonaro Tests Positive for Coronavirus
The news comes after Bolsonaro has repeatedly dismissed the risk posed by the virus both to himself and others and argued against social distancing measures as a threat to the economy.
"In my particular case, because of my history as an athlete, in case I were contaminated by the virus I wouldn't need to worry. I wouldn't feel anything or it would be, at most, similar to a little flu, or a little cold," he said during a national television address March 24, as The Associated Press reported.
His approach has earned him protests at home and worldwide criticism for allowing the virus to spread in his country, The New York Times reported. He fired one health minister in April over disagreements about how to respond to the pandemic and forced a second to quit less than a month later. The current health minister is an active-duty general with no medical experience. Brazil has now reported more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and more than 65,000 deaths, falling second only to the U.S. in both categories.
Bolsonaro took a test for the virus Monday after falling ill with fatigue, muscle pain and a fever. His illness occurred two days after he attended a Fourth of July lunch at the home of Brazil's U.S. Ambassador Todd Chapman, where Bolsonaro and other attendees were pictured sitting side by side without masks. The ambassador and his wife have since tested negative for the virus but are remaining in quarantine.
Na Embaixada dos EUA, celebrando o 4 de julho, dia da independência americana. https://t.co/CqtgUNxiSL— Ernesto Araújo (@Ernesto Araújo)1593885595.0
So far, Bolsonaro's diagnosis has not changed his tone. As he announced his test results, he continued to focus on the importance of reopening Brazil's economy.
"You can't just talk about the consequences of the virus that you have to worry about. Life goes on. Brazil needs to produce. You need to get the economy in gear,″ he said, according to The Associated Press.
He was also widely criticized on social media for taking off his mask while speaking to reporters about his diagnosis, The Indian Express reported.
Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for coronavirus, just exposed every journalist to the virus, in case you were wo… https://t.co/cuTpNEwiMd— Brian Tyler Cohen (@Brian Tyler Cohen)1594140437.0
Bolsonaro is an ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, NPR reported, who has also been criticized for dismissing the severity of the pandemic. Like Trump, Bolsonaro has touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine for treating the coronavirus, an anti-malaria drug that the Food and Drug Administration has warned against taking for COVID-19.
But Bolsonaro said his medical team was treating him with the drug on Tuesday and that he was feeling "very well," according to The New York Times.
Politicians and public health experts said that Bolsonaro's diagnosis was unlikely to change Brazil's approach to the virus unless he grew seriously ill. The country is currently in the process of reopening.
"My concern is that he will use this to say, 'See, I'm fine, if you catch this you will survive,'" Rio de Janeiro community activist Day Medeiros told The New York Times. "Everything that happens to him has real repercussions in how people behave here. This is really serious."
But one analyst thought the diagnosis would ultimately harm Bolsoarno's political career.
"Despite publicly shrugging off his positive test for Covid-19, it marks the beginning of the end of his administration," Robert Muggah, director of Rio-based think tank the Igarape Institute, told CNBC in an email. "It is yet another visible expression of his recklessness and ineptitude."
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The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
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