‘There Will Be an Increase in Deforestation’: Brazil’s New President Signs Order Endangering Amazon and Indigenous Rights
In his first day in office, right wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro realized the fears of environmentalists and Indigenous communities. They knew he would use his time in office to increase the access of extractive industries in the Amazon Rainforest. Within hours of taking power Tuesday, Bolsonaro transferred responsibility for recognizing Indigenous lands to the ministry of agriculture, The New York Times reported.
"There will be an increase in deforestation and violence against indigenous people," executive coordinator of the Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil (Apib) Dinaman Tuxá warned, according to The Guardian. "Indigenous people are defenders and protectors of the environment."
Bolsonaro’s first move against Amazon protection: transferring indigenous reserve demarcation to agriculture minist… https://t.co/FtlKL5DWsR— Dom Phillips (@Dom Phillips)1546452871.0
Deforestation is already on the rise in Brazil, which saw its highest rate of tree clearing in a decade this past year. At the same time, during the last eight years the Brazilian government has reduced funding for Indigenous groups and prioritized the desires of industries that want greater access to the rainforest, The New York Times reported. The government has also slowed the pace at which it recognizes Indigenous lands in recent years.
Bolsonaro's new order ups the ante by making the agriculture ministry responsible for the "identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people," Reuters reported. It also gives that ministry control over the management of public forests and the Brazilian Forestry Service, which is in charge of sustainable forest use. The order will expire in 120 days if it is not ratified by Congress.
Bolsonaro defended his order on Twitter Wednesday.
"Less than a million people live in these isolated places in Brazil, where they are exploited and manipulated by NGOs," Bolsonaro wrote, according to a translation provided by Reuters. "Let us together integrate these citizens and value all Brazilians."
Mais de 15% do território nacional é demarcado como terra indígena e quilombolas. Menos de um milhão de pessoas viv… https://t.co/j1BfcyBlxg— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@Jair M. Bolsonaro)1546438760.0
However, anthropologist Leila Sílvia Burger Sotto-Maior, who used to work for the country's National Indian Foundation, which formerly oversaw the certification of protected lands, told The New York Times that the order was "a clear affront to the Constitution."
Brazil's 1988 Constitution was ratified after 21 years of military dictatorship, and attempted to enshrine protections for Indigenous communities and other marginalized groups after decades of oppression and exploitation. During the dictatorship, the government had seen Indigenous communities as a threat to economic opportunity and had tried to force them into the rest of Brazilian society, rather than recognizing their rights to live in their ancestral lands. The Constitution, in contrast, affirmed those rights.
"There's fear, there's pain," Burger told The New York Times of the recent order. "This feels like defeat, failure."
Bolsonaro also signed an order giving his government more power over NGOs, Reuters reported.
The order gives the office of the Government Secretary, Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz, temporary power to "supervise, coordinate, monitor and accompany the activities and actions of international organizations and non-governmental organizations in the national territory," Reuters reported.
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In Major Win for Indigenous Rights, Supreme Court Rules Much of Eastern Oklahoma Is Still a Reservation
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.
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By Tiffany Means
Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.
The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.
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By Angela Nicoletti
The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.
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A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.
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By Julia Vergin
It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.
Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.
EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.
Climate models are predicting faster warming of the North Atlantic Ocean, which will shift the Gulf Stream. NASA
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