You Can Stop Brazil From Cutting Through the Middle of the Amazon Rainforest, Here's How

The Amazon rainforest is home to incredible wildlife and is also a source of oxygen and other useful gasses. Known also as Amazonia, this 2.1 million square miles area spans eight countries. However, only one is ready to cut through the middle of it for a highway. Here’s what you can do to stop this devastating idea from becoming a reality.
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Wet areas across the world, forests, and the ecosystems they create and support are incredibly important for keeping our planet from reaching uninhabitable temperatures in less than 100 years. Climate change is a real threat to humankind. Trying to destroy everything that evolved naturally to replace it with artificial infrastructure won’t do us any good in the long term.

The Amazon rainforest, for example, makes over 5% of the world’s oxygen, and – like Congo’s Basin rainforest – it constantly attracts and encapsulates carbon dioxide. Scientists and ecologists have started calling the majestic South American place a “sink” or, better yet, “the sink!” That’s because it sucks so much harmful gas from our atmosphere and doesn’t release it back. This incredibly complex piece of land covers just 1% of our planet’s surface and it consumes or stores gasses that contribute to the greenhouse effect we should strive to avoid.

The Earth’s largest tropical rainforest has been subject to human intervention before. Deforestation, logging, and tourism are just some of the threats this place faces. Lately, fires have started to become the norm in a place where the climate is mostly wet. As you may have guessed already, this is not good news. Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Peru, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela are all trying to find ways in which their people would benefit from their nation’s riches. Unfortunately, one of these countries that have some of Amazonia within their borders is thinking about adding concrete, asphalt, electricity, gas stations, and plumbing in the middle of it all. That’s Brazil.

There’s already a road there

Brazil is approaching a very intense election season. The incumbent Jair Bolsonaro is looking to secure reelection, even though his popularity isn’t that good right now. But with desperate times come desperate measures. Since the politician needed a good reason to start campaigning and telling Brazilians that a new era of prosperity awaits them under the same ruler, he decided to support and rush the approval of the infrastructure project that was looking to cut through the middle of the very important Amazon rainforest.

According to the Times, the BR-319 was used mainly by the military in the 1970s. Now it links a city inhabited by over 2.3 million people with the rest of the country. However, in its current state, it’s inaccessible during the six-month rainy season. The unpaved road is traveled mainly by pickup trucks for five months because the distance is shorter for those living in Manaus.

After Brazil’s Bolsonaro made the promise on his campaign trail, the country’s infrastructure minister rushed to Twitter and announced that a permit had been granted. The 50-year-old abandoned military road that was used only by a couple of people during a limited yearly period is now going to be transformed into a highway.

The next step for Brazil now is to wait for companies that want the contracts to make their offers. The project will first address the worst parts of BR-319. The middle section of the road, for example, will need a lot of work to remain stable during the rainy season. Pavement will shortly follow.

A disaster in the making you can stop

Experts already sounded the alarm. The former Brazilian Environment minister resigned because the South American country’s allies and partners started asking what’s happening with the logging in Amazonia and why it has continued climbing to never-before-seen levels. The pressure from environmental agencies and non-governmental organizations was also increasing. Still, the trees that were cut over five years could’ve covered the whole country of Belgium.

Instead of addressing the issue, Brazil pushes ahead now with a project that’s looks like it will encourage more deforestation and illegal logging. With the permit remaining valid and a license issued, the rebirth of the BR-319 used by the military during the dictatorship era is now almost certain.

Fortunately, people that care about the environment can do something to stop it. This project might turn into a menace to our common future, and it won’t help at all with the need to lower the Earth’s temperature. Otherwise, climate change will change our lives forever – but not for the better.

If you want to do your part and stop further destruction for Amazonia, you can begin by writing about this issue to your member of Congress or Parliament. These democratically elected bodies have people that are part of certain Committees which keep in touch with their counterparts from various countries. Making your voice heard about the matter could lead to a useful foreign policy change.

Going further, you can also write to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in English or French. You could simply tell them about the issue, or you can ask for the professional help of a lawyer and draft a document that would most likely get the Court’s attention. Environmental cases have been trialed in the past. Most recently, Nicaragua and Costa Rica went before the judges and had to accept a ruling that ended with Costa Rica being awarded reparations.

Finally, you can donate to NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund or Greenpeace with the mention that they should use the money to protect the tropical Amazon rainforest.

These actions might feel insignificant when looking at the grand scheme of things, but you should know that every little right thing done counts. After all, we’re talking about our common future here!
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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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