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The American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Ocean Life will not serve as the venue for a dinner honoring far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Jason Kempin / Getty Images for Turner

The American Museum of Natural History will no longer host a gala intended to honor controversial Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose plans to open the Amazon rainforest to industry were seen by many as incompatible with the museum's mission, Reuters reported Monday.

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The American Museum Of Natural History's 2018 Museum Gala on Nov. 15, 2018 in New York City. Sylvain Gaboury / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The American Museum of Natural History says it is "deeply concerned" about a gala honoring Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro that is scheduled to take place at the museum next month.

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Illegal deforestation in Pirititi indigenous land, Roraima, Brazil on May 8, 2018. Felipe Werneck / Ibama / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Robert T. Walker

Over the past 25 years that I have been conducting environmental research in the Amazon, I have witnessed the the ongoing destruction of the world's biggest rainforest. Twenty percent of it has been deforested by now—an area larger than Texas.

I therefore grew hopeful when environmental policies began to take effect at the turn of the millennium, and the rate of deforestation dropped from nearly 11,000 square miles per year to less than 2,000 over the decade following 2004.

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Special address by Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil. World Economic Forum / YouTube

In his first major international speech, Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro told the politicians and business leaders gathered in Davos this week that he's opening up his country and its natural resources to foreign investment, all while—somehow—preserving the nation's environment and biodiversity.

"It is now our mission to make progress in harmonizing environmental preservation and biodiversity on the one hand, with much-needed economic development, while bearing in mind that these are interdependent, inseparable pillars of our society," he said Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

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Alan Morici / Picture Alliance / Getty Images

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.

The agriculture ministry has ties to the agribusiness lobby and other industries that would like to gain access to Indigenous lands, The Guardian and The New York Times reported.

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Amazon rainforest cleared for cattle raising; green groups are concerned Brazil's new environment minister will prioritize agriculture over conservation. Luiz Claudio Marigo / Nature Picture Library / Getty Images

When right-wing Congressman Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil in October, environmental groups raised concerns about what his presidency could mean for the future of the Amazon rainforest and the global fight against climate change.

Now, Bolsonaro's choice for environment minister appears to justify those concerns. In a tweet Sunday, Bolsonaro announced he would appoint pro-business lawyer Ricardo de Aquino Salles to the role, Reuters reported.

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Jair Bolsonaro during a speech on Feb. 2, 2017. Marcelo Camargo / Agência Brasil Fotografias / CC BY 2.0

Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro, whose hostile campaign rhetoric has earned him comparisons to U.S. President Donald Trump, won Brazil's presidential election Sunday, a development that has raised concerns about the future of human rights and environmental action in the world's sixth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, CNN reported.

Like Trump, Bolsonaro has made homophobic, sexist and racist statements and emboldened right wing groups who share his views.

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