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Tue 17 September 2019
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Those handed responsibility for saving our planet are determined to terrorise us into extinction so that their super-rich backers can become ever richer, argues CJ Werleman.


For the past week, the world has watched on in horror as the Amazon jungle – which produces 20% of the world’s oxygen, holds the greatest reservoir of fresh water and plays an essential role in the fight against the devastating consequences of climate change – is besieged by man-made fires.

But let us label this disaster what it is: a catastrophic right-wing terrorist attack on the entire planet.

In terms of real and potential loss of life, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Boslonaro’s attack on the Amazon far exceeds anything Osama Bin Laden accomplished in murdering more than 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

Bolsonaro seized the presidency in 2018 by campaigning as a Donald Trump-esque right-wing populist, deploying demagoguery against the scapegoated villains – immigrants, native Brazilians, Afro-Brazilians, and the LGBTQ community – while utilising the country’s right-wing media to disseminate both misinformation and disinformation.

In the nearly 12 months he has held office, Bolsonaro has waged a typical right-wing war on the environment by removing obstacles and cutting regulations in favour of cattle ranchers, loggers and miners so that they can wreak havoc on the Amazon in search for their respective fortunes.

In the same way US President Donald Trump has appointed former big mining lobbyists to head the country’s Environmental Protection Agency while slashing the department’s budget, Bolsonaro has done likewise to Brazil’s leading environmental agency while also handing power to the big agriculture-dominated Ministry of Agriculture to do whatever it wants to the Amazon and indigenous lands.

The titans of big agriculture, or more specifically corporations that count among the world’s richest beef and soya companies, are the ones who started these fires.

More than 1.8 million acres of the Amazon have now been destroyed by fires, with 13,396 fires burning in August, representing a 442% increase from the previous month, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

Climate scientists are calling this right-wing-backed corporate arson attack on the Amazon the equivalent of a 5 Alarm Fire on the global ecosystem, warning that the degradation and destruction of the Amazon rainforest will dramatically accelerate climate change. Climate experts at the Rainforest Trust, a US-based non-profit environmental organisation, warned in 2017 that, if the Amazon became a barren landscape, the earth would experience an increase of 140 billion tonnes of stored carbon released into the atmosphere.

Fire department units work in a field after a devastating fire near San Juan, Brazil. Photo: Gaston Brito/dpa

Frighteningly, a report recently published by George Mason University and Brazil’s National Institute of Science and Technology found that the Amazon is fast approaching a dangerous tipping point, with the jungle becoming increasingly dryer, and thus creating what climate experts call a “dangerous feedback loop” – in which fewer trees means less rain, and less rainfall means less water, and less water means more fires.

If the Amazon, as we know it, disappears, the events that would be unleashed across the globe would bring about an environmental, social and political apocalypse.

These fires constitute a catastrophic right-wing terrorist attack on the entire planet as they are directly connected to the pro-corporation friendly policies of mainstream right-wing politics, specifically, the way right-wing political parties and their big mining and big agriculture backers view environmental conservation as an obstacle to economic progress.

It is the doctrine of unbridled capitalism at all costs; one in which regulatory controls, oversight and transparency are viewed as the enemies of progress and the planet’s life-sustaining resources are viewed as a mere afterthought. It is why the right-wing-led governments of countries such as Brazil, America and Australia peddle climate change denial in defiance of irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

Bolsonaro spreads climate change denial, as does Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with each dismissing it as either a Chinese, left-wing, Communist or Maoist-generated hoax, and at the same time, appointing mining and agriculture lobbyists to lead their respective cabinets in charge of the environment.

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At the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this month, the Australian leader shamed his country yet again on the global stage when he refused to promise an end to the expansion of his country’s coal industry, despite the pleas of neighboring South Pacific countries. The forum was held on Tuvalu, which is one of the lowest lying islands on earth and thus already existentially threatened by climate change, through the rise in sea levels.

As for the US, Trump has attacked the environment with far too many right-wing, pro-corporation friendly policies to count, including withdrawing from the groundbreaking 2015 Paris Agreement; loosening regulations on toxic air pollution; passing laws to sharply increase logging on public lands; green lighting the XL Pipeline project; providing hunters unfettered access to public lands; reducing EPA criminal enforcements to a 30 year low; and more.

Clearly, the planet is under siege and our ecosystem at breaking point. And the men who are handed the responsibility for saving us are only determined to terrorise us into extinction, so that their backers – the already super rich – can become ever richer.

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