"THIS news item over the weekend was perhaps more depressing because it did not
come as a surprise: Inpe, the Brazilian space research agency, reported that
13,235 square kilometers of Brazil's Amazon rainforest had disappeared in the
past year, a 22-percent increase in deforestation from the year and the most in
The biggest implication of the news is that it indicates that effective
concerted action against anthropogenic climate change is extremely unlikely and
that the best anyone can hope for are smaller, localized efforts that will
ultimately not add up to enough to save the planet.
A global agreement to halt deforestation was the first, and one of the few,
tangible gains of last month's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. One
hundred ten countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030, including Brazil,
which came as a pleasant surprise to everyone. Brazil, which is home to the
world's largest rainforest, is also the world's most energetic destroyer of
forests, particularly under the administration of populist thug Jair Bolsonaro,
who takes a demented pride in making policy decisions specifically intended to
harm people and the environment. The feeling at the time was that if a country
like Brazil could be convinced to sign on to a pact to end deforestation, there
was a good chance COP26 could achieve some real progress in slowing or stopping
the planet's rapid slide toward becoming uninhabitable.
Even before Inpe's report — which, not surprisingly, annoyed both President
Bolsonaro and his toady of an environment minister, Joachim Leite — there were
clear signs that the deforestation agreement was window-dressing at best. To
begin with, the agreement was largely a rehashed version of the same pledge
that was made at the climate summit in New York in 2014, just with an updated
deadline for "action." Just like the earlier agreement, in order to get
everyone to agree on the current deforestation pact, it has language and
details that are so vague and watered-down — beginning with kicking the problem
down the road for another 10 years — that there is no way to ensure that any
country will actually do anything.
The second problem with the deforestation agreement is that, just a day after
signing it, the Indonesian government declared that the agreement was "unfair"
and would hamper its economic development. Indonesia is second only to Brazil
in terms of both the size of its forests and its appetite for destruction, and
its participation in the agreement was seen as critical. Not signing it in the
first place would have been extremely unfortunate, but sabotaging it by
reneging on its signature less than 24 hours after putting it to paper was a
Bolsonaro-worthy level of mockery of global climate efforts."
Via Robert Sanscartier.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics