A white-vented violetear hummingbird feeds on the nectar of the flowers of a Stachytarpheta glabra
Thanks to Augusto Gomes for bringing this region, unknown to us, to our attention:
In a little-known region that calls to mind Tolkien’s Middle-earth, photojournalist Augusto Gomes marvels at one of the oldest, harshest, most biodiverse – and most threatened – ecosystems on the planet
Lutz’s poison frog, which feeds primarily on ants
When I was a child, my family would drive three hours from our home in Belo Horizonte to visit my grandfather’s ranch near the town of Santana dos Montes. On the way, we would cross the Espinhaço mountain range, which runs north to south in the central-eastern portion of Brazil.
Espinhaço means “spine” in Portuguese, and the name could not be more apt. The range spans 1,200km (750 miles), its bony peaks reach as high as 2km, and the thriving, humid Atlantic Forest drops away to the east, foggy and dense with evergreens, ferns, mosses and bromeliads, the air bursting with the strange songs of birds you never see. On the west side of the mountains, the arid, savannah-like Cerrado stretches flat and exposed, with golden grasslands and small, twisted trees. Continue reading
Smoke rises from an illegally lit fire in Amazon rainforest reserve, south of Novo Progresso in Para state, Brazil. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Stewardship has rights and responsibilities, and we expect better both from and for Brazil in their stewardship of the Amazon region. For our part, among other things, we can all avoid purchasing products that result from this deforestation:
International team of researchers also found that deforestation rose nearly four-fold in 2019
A fallen tree lies in an area of the Amazon jungle that was cleared by loggers and farmers near Porto Velho, Rondonia State. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
The Brazilian Amazon released nearly 20% more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the past decade than it absorbed, according to a startling report that shows humanity can no longer depend on the world’s largest tropical forest to help absorb manmade carbon pollution.
From 2010 through 2019, Brazil’s Amazon basin gave off 16.6bn tonnes of CO2, while drawing down only 13.9bn tonnes, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Nature Climate Change. Continue reading
An illegal logging in the Alto Turiacu indigenous territory in Brazil’s Maranhão State in 2015. FÁBIO NASCIMENTO / GREENPEACE
Trust, a kind of social glue, keeps us from having to think nonstop about worst case scenarios. We trust that those with authority, whether intellectual or political, will use it responsibly. Thinking about this recently, I have been adjusting where I have least and greatest trust that responsible environmental actions are taken. Today I have made an adjustment on the former. The USA’s political leadership has been at the forefront of my thought when it comes to least responsible, least trustworthy actions. Philip Fearnside, an ecologist at the National Institute for Research in Amazonia (INPA) in Brazil, studies the consequences of deforestation in the world’s largest tropical forest, so his word carries scientific weight for me. He has put in perspective why I should turn my attention to Brazil:
Newly elected Jair Bolsonaro, an authoritarian nationalist sometimes called the “tropical Trump,” has staked out an environmental agenda that would open the Amazon to widespread development, putting at risk a region that plays a vital role in stabilizing the global climate.
An indigenous woman protests against then-candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to ban the creation of new protected areas or indigenous territories, in Sao Paulo in October. NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
For people concerned about the environment and climate change, U.S. President Donald Trump has proven to be as bad, or worse, than feared. He is in the process of pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement, continues to flatly dismiss the science of human-caused global warming, and has worked ceaselessly to undo environmental regulations and weaken environmental agencies.
Brazil’s president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro, has pledged to dismantle the country’s environmental regulations. MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Now, however, a new leader has emerged on the world stage who is poised to do even more global environmental damage than Trump. He is Jair Bolsonaro, the recently elected president of Brazil, and his extreme views on the environment, coupled with his control of nearly all the country’s levers of power, means that he is now in a position to do unprecedented harm to the Amazon and the international battle to slow climate change.
Not for nothing is Bolsonaro known as the “tropical Trump.” The parallels are many, including their embrace of the far right and their inflammatory rhetoric. And among their similarities is the way that a constant barrage of outrageous comments diverts discussion from the environmental damage that their policies portend. Continue reading
Thanks as always to the Guardian for coverage of environmental crises in the making:
Brazil’s ambition to become a palm oil giant could have devastating social and environmental impacts if the move is not carefully managed, say experts Continue reading
On January 31st, 2017 New Directions Publishing is bringing this masterpiece, published originally in Brazil in 1984, to an English-reading audience for the first time:
For André, a young man growing up on a farm in Brazil, life consists of “the earth, the wheat, the bread, our table, and our family.” He loves the land, fears his austere, pious father, who preaches from the head of the table as if from a pulpit, and loathes himself as he begins to harbor shameful feelings for his sister Ana. Lyrical and sensual, written with biblical intensity, this classic Brazilian coming-of-age novel follows André’s tormented path. He falls into the comforting embrace of liquor as—in his psychological and sexual awakening—he must choose between body and soul, obligation and freedom.
I was completing a degree in literature the year this was first published, but Portuguese was not an option for my reading, nor was Brazil really on my map at that time. As a result, or for whatever other reasons, I never heard of this book before.
Work assignments took me to Brazil several times in the intervening decades, and Latin America has been home base for most of the last two decades. I know I must read this, and soon, so it has just moved to the top of my next-book list. But for a very different reason the author has my attention, thanks to this:
In 1984, at the height of his literary fame, Raduan Nassar announced his retirement, to become a farmer. Continue reading
Source: ABC News
The 2016 Rio Olympics start in two days and in three days athletes will have to face the uncontrolled pollution debris and hazardous water contamination levels. The 1,400 athletes participating in water competitions and 300,000 to 500,000 foreigners expected to visit Rio de Janeiro and the beaches at Copacabana and Ipanema are at risk of becoming ill. This unfortunate predicament comes even after the city’s 2009 Olympic bid when authorities pledged that they would invest in a billion-dollar cleanup program to “regenerate Rio’s magnificent waterways.” Continue reading
NEW VENTURE: Deniston Mariano Dutra and his son Matheus Correia Dutra harvest cacao seeds. After giving up on cattle, the family replanted their farm with these indigenous trees. © Kevin Arnold via TNC
We care deeply about Amazonia, and Brazil is the country with the most deforestation in the river region, specifically from cattle ranching. But good news is coming from The Nature Conservancy in the April/May issue, where, as the article’s subtitle reads, “After decades of turning forests into pastures and fields, Brazilian landowners have begun reversing the trend.” Julian Smith reports for the TNC Magazine:
Lazir Soares de Castro stands amid white and gray Nelore cattle on his ranch in São Félix do Xingu, a remote and sprawling county on Brazil’s northeastern Amazon frontier. Beyond a wooden fence, high grass and scrub brush fade into sporadic trees in the distance.
Still vital at 70, Soares describes how different this area looked when he arrived in 1984, when it was all virgin rainforest. “It was the poorest area. There was no electricity, no telephone, no TV, no roads, nothing.” The military dictatorship then running the country was encouraging settlers to occupy the Amazon in the name of national security. “There was no organized environmental policy,” Soares says.
This post continues my discussion of biofuels from Part 1.
Brazil contains many of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, as well as one of the most important CO2-sinks in the form of rainforests. As the second largest sugarcane grower in the world, Brazil’s biofuel production relies heavily on sugarcane ethanol, which has one of the highest savings in GHG emissions compared to fossil fuels. However, increasing sugarcane production is not sustainable in the long-term if one of Brazil’s goals is to curtail GHG emissions, since growing more sugarcane means cutting down more rainforest. Instead, second- and third-generation (advanced) biofuels should be considered viable options for replacing sugarcane, or at least strongly supplementing it.