Tag Archives: deforestation

Why reporting from the Amazon has become so dangerous

The discovery of two bodies believed to be those of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira highlights risks facing journalists in the region

By Pablo Albarenga and Francesc Badia I Dalmases  Published 6-15-2022 by openDemocracy

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira on Amazon expedition in 2018 Screenshot: The Guardian

Reporting from the Amazon, as we can both attest, is fraught with danger at every corner.

While leaving Indigenous territory on one of our recent reporting trips, we were stopped at gunpoint by military police. Officers searched our bags and personal belongings while firing questions at us. Continue reading

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Green Groups Blame Bolsonaro Policies as Amazon Deforestation Sets New Monthly Record

“The Bolsonaro administration is abetting deforestation and environmental crime,” said one campaigner, “and what we harvest are these terrible, scary, revolting numbers.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Amazon Watch/Twitter

Brazil’s space research agency revealed Friday that deforestation in the country’s Amazon rainforest last month shattered the previous record for April, a development one conservation campaigner called “very scary” and an indication of the criminal level of environmental destruction occurring under the administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

The National Institute for Space Research said nearly 400 square miles of the world’s largest rainforest was destroyed in Brazil last month, an area the size of 1,400 soccer fields and by far the biggest loss for April since record-keeping began in 2015, Agence France-Presse reports. Continue reading

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‘Policy of Death’: Amazon Guardians Sue Ecuador’s President Over Oil, Mining Decrees

“We are fighting to defend our territory, our rivers, our forest, our fish, and our animals,” one Indigenous leader explained. “Without our forest and without water, we cannot live.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 10-18-2021

Indigenous Amazon protectors on October 18, 2021 filed the first in a series of lawsuits challenging a pair of decrees by Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso in service of expanding the fossil fuel and mining industries. (Photo: Amazon Frontlines/Twitter)

In a bid to halt what one Indigenous leader called a “policy of death,” communities from Ecuador’s Amazon region on Monday sued the country’s right-wing president, who is planning a major expansion of fossil fuel extraction and mining that threatens millions of acres of pristine rainforest and the survival of native peoples.

In the first of a series of lawsuits against President Guillermo Lasso, Indigenous nations, groups, and advocates allege that Executive Decree 95—which aims to double the country’s oil production to one million barrels per day by deregulating the fossil fuel industry—violates their internationally recognized right to free, prior, and informed consultation and consent. Continue reading

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Moving beyond America’s war on wildfire: 4 ways to avoid future megafires

Tools for a prescribed burn conducted in the Sierra Nevada in November 2019.
Susan Kocher, CC BY-ND

Susan Kocher, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Ryan E. Tompkins, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Californians have been concerned about wildfires for a long time, but the past two years have left many of them fearful and questioning whether any solutions to the fire crisis truly exist.

The Dixie Fire in the Sierra Nevada burned nearly 1 million acres in 2021, including almost the entire community of Greenville. Then strong winds near Lake Tahoe sent the Caldor Fire racing through the community of Grizzly Flats and to the edges of urban neighborhoods, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people – including one of us. Those were only the biggest of the 2021 fires, and the risk isn’t over. A wind-blown fire that started Oct. 11 was spreading quickly near Santa Barbara on the Southern California coast. Continue reading

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Record-Breaking Disasters Across World Have Root Cause in Common: Human Activity

“The solutions we conceive of as a global society,” a new report states, must “allow for interconnected ways of solving multiple problems at once.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-8-2021

Amazon deforestation. Phpto: Oregon State University/flickr/CC

A slew of recent record-breaking disasters that took place in faraway places across the world shouldn’t be seen in isolation but as interconnected events for which human activity is a major root cause, according to a United Nations report released Wednesday.

The study (pdf), released by the UN University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, took a “deep dive” into 10 extreme events that occurred in 2020 and 2021 that “were not only disastrous for people and the environment but were also the symptoms of underlying processes ingrained in our society.” Continue reading

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‘Out of Control’: Brazilian Amazon Deforestation Hits Highest Level in a Decade

“At this rate, we will not be able to keep global warming below 1.5ºC, a target defined in the Paris agreement,” said the conservation institute Imazon.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-20-2021

Kayapó Mekragnotire people blockading the BR-163 highway in Pará – 2020. Photo: Avispa Midia

Encouraged by President Jair Bolsonaro, deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest surged to its highest annual level in a decade over the past year, with researchers warning that the accelerated destruction of the critical carbon sink is imperiling the ability to keep planetary heating below the Paris climate agreement’s 1.5ºC target.

Imazon, a Brazilian research institute whose mission is to promote conservation and sustainable development, reported Thursday that from August 2020 to July 2021, 10,476 square kilometers of Amazon rainforest were destroyed, a 57% increase over the previous 12-month period. Continue reading

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Planet’s Vital Signs Are Reaching Dangerous ‘Tipping Points’ Amid Climate Crisis, Scientists Warn

“We need to stop treating the climate emergency as a stand-alone issue—global heating is not the sole symptom of our stressed Earth system.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-28-2021

Human activity may be pushing the climate beyond dangerous ‘tipping points,’ say 14,000 scientists. As the extreme drought emergency continues in California, historically low water levels are visible at Lake Oroville on July 22, 2021 in Oroville, California. Photo: NOAA

More than a year after the Covid-19 pandemic shut down economies around the world and sharply reduced worldwide travel—sparking speculation among some that emissions would plummet as a result—a coalition of scientists said in a paper published Wednesday that the planet is nonetheless reaching multiple “tipping points,” with levels of sea ice melt, deforestation, and other markers revealing that urgent action is needed to mitigate the climate emergency.

“The extreme climate events and patterns that we’ve witnessed over the last several years — not to mention the last several weeks — highlight the heightened urgency with which we must address the climate crisis,” said Philip Duffy, co-author of the study and executive director of the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts. Continue reading

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Leaving Parts of Trump’s Pro-Polluter Legacy Intact, Biden Gets C- on Environmental Report Card

Biden’s “limited achievements must be put in context of what both science and justice require to avoid the worst impacts of the climate and extinction crises,” said the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-2021

Photo: Eric Haynes/CC

Expressing alarm over President Joe Biden’s support for a number of pipeline projects and his failure to reverse the vast majority of environmental regulatory rollbacks introduced by his predecessor, the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund on Tuesday gave the president a grade of C-minus and said he “needs improvement” on its Environmental Report Card.

Six months into his presidency, Biden has fully met five out of 25 “concrete and achievable environmental promises” he made on the campaign trail, and has only reversed three of former President Donald Trump’s rollbacks.

CBD Action Fund noted in the report card (pdf) that the president signed an “unprecedented” 17 executive orders on his first day in office in January, including three that fulfilled “Day One” promises he had made: “formally beginning the reentry process to the Paris climate agreement, permanently rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, and directing all federal agencies to elevate addressing environmental justice to protect frontline communities.”

The group emphasized, however, that during Biden’s first six months in office the U.S. has experienced an unprecedented drought” and “record-shattering heatwaves” which climate scientists have long warned about.

“Thus, even as his administration is evaluated at the six-month mark, its limited achievements must be put in context of what both science and justice require to avoid the worst impacts of the climate and extinction crises,” the report card reads.

“President Biden got off to a strong start right when he took office, but his environmental agenda appears to be stalling out,” said Brett Hartl, chief political strategist at the CBD Action Fund. “He has to light a fire under his Cabinet and the federal agencies to complete his campaign promises without foot-dragging, because the climate and extinction crises are getting more urgent every day.”

Overall, the group credited Biden with fulfilling five campaign promises so far, including holding a global climate summit in his first 100 days in office and reinstating federal flood-protection standards that assess climate change risks.

The administration has taken steps to fulfill 13 other campaign pledges, including:
  • Ending financing for overseas coal projects;
  • Installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations; and
  • Requiring that disadvantaged communities receive 40% of benefits from climate spending.

“For other campaign promises, the Biden administration has yet to initiate efforts to achieve them,” the report card says. “For example, Biden spoke numerous times during the campaign about addressing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. He proposed a $20 billion conservation fund to address deforestation. However, this initiative was not part of his fiscal year 2022 budget proposal, and it is unclear what other steps the administration will take to address deforestation.”

CBD Action Fund identified just three Trump-era environmental rollbacks that Biden has reversed, including the so-called “secret science” rule restricting data the EPA can use to enact regulations; eliminating the use of the “social cost of carbon” in environmental reviews; and curtailing categories of industrial polluters subjected to greenhouse gas regulations.

Biden was also credited with taking steps to restore protections to the Tongass National Forest and the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, and with announcing recently that officials will “begin the process of undoing additional Trump-era rollbacks,” the report reads.

“The timeline and scope of these efforts is unclear,” said the CBD Action Fund. “For example, the Department of the Interior announced in June that it would ‘revisit’ the Trump-era rollback of the regulations guiding consultations under the Endangered Species Act.”

“But the department signaled that it would only reverse one of over 20 changes made by the previous administration to the regulations—specifically restoring the earlier definition of ‘indirect effects’—and stated that this effort would not even begin until December 2021 at the earliest,” the group continued.

In addition to more than two dozen Trump-era rollbacks the administration has taken no action to reverse, the group expressed indignation at Biden’s decision to support some of Trump’s attacks on the environment.

The president has declined to block the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota or shut down operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as approving nearly 2,500 new drilling permits on public lands and waters—”roughly the same amount that the Trump administration approved during its first entire year in office,” the report card reads.

“Biden’s bold vision during the campaign won’t be met if his administration leaves large chunks of Trump’s pro-polluter legacy intact,” said Hartl.

Biden has also supported Trump’s weakened protections from pesticides for endangered species, an increased limit for Atrazine pollution in waterways, and the expanded use of antibiotics on citrus crops.

“If President Biden does not act boldly, right now, the impacts of climate change will be severe enough to make large swaths of our planet nearly uninhabitable,” CBD Action Fund said.

After a promising start, the group added, “complacency and inertia could stymy further progress on his climate and environmental goals. Without a continued and sustained effort in the next 12 to 18 months, any potential environmental legacy could easily be erased.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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In ‘Critical Step’ for Climate, Biden to Restore Protections for Tongass National Forest

“The Tongass is not only one of the few truly wild places left on the planet, it is vital to our path forward as we deal with climate change,” said the Alaska-based group SalmonState.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-15-2021

Hikers walk through the Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska. (Photo: U.S. Forest Service/Flickr/cc)

Conservation and climate action groups on Thursday applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement of far-reaching new protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest as well as a restoration of a key rule that former President Donald Trump rescinded three months before leaving office in a bid to open millions of acres to industrial logging.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the administration would put back in place the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, also known as the Roadless Rule, which Trump exempted Alaska from in a move that outraged Indigenous communities in the region as well as environmental advocates. Continue reading

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‘Biggest Story in the World Right Now’: Humanity Has Flipped Amazon From Carbon Sink to Source

The findings, said one expert, “show that the uncertain future is happening now.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-14-2021

Fire in the Amazon. Photo: Luísa Mota/flickr/CC

Following years of warnings and mounting fears among scientists, “terrifying” research revealed Wednesday that climate change and deforestation have turned parts of the Amazon basin, a crucial “sink,” into a source of planet-heating carbon dioxide.

Though recent research has elevated concerns about the Amazon putting more CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than it absorbs, the new findings, published in the journal Nature, were presented as a “first” by scientists and climate reporters. Continue reading

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