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‘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."
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."
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.
- Amazon Rainforest Deforestation Hits Highest Rate in 10 Years ›
- Brazil's New President Could Spell Catastrophe for the Amazon ... ›
- Brazil's New Environment Minister Is Bad News for the Amazon and ... ›
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
By Karin Kirk
Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.
By Kerstin Palme
Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.
But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.
Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.
The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.