Something worth fighting for

There are a lot of people angry at the world right now. Everyone has reason to be angry, but some people are angered by non-existent situations. One real situation that should anger everyone is climate change. No longer are the effects something that we will feel someday. Wildfires, severe weather events, vector borne illnesses, and, to some extent, the pandemic, are all the result of a warming world and both the actions and inaction of governments.

I recently read a story published in Bloomberg titled, “The Amazon is fast approaching a point of no return.” The story talks about how rainforest reserves are stripped away and turned into grazing land, and how this illegal practice is being made legal by the Bolsonaro administration. Jair Bolsonaro defends these actions by talking about the need for economic prosperity by a nation full of poor people, but while Brazil has no shortage of impoverished people, the profits from the companies benefitting from the land grab don’t trickle down. This sort of logical fallacy is what one would expect from someone like Bolsonaro, but his brazen demand for the U.S. and other nations to pay billions of dollars for him to put an end to culling the rainforest takes corruption to a whole new level.

It is not that Bolsonaro is the first corrupt leader of Brazil to profit off of the destruction of a biome that is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet.” He is simply the worst. This isn’t the first time people were told that buying the rainforest could prevent its destruction either, and some people have made attempts to buy land in the Amazon with the aim of protecting it only for it to be developed by agricultural interests who care little about ownership.

Bolsonaro is a devil, and as such should not be believed. The answer to his demands should be our military might.

I know that other people will call for boycotts, but the only way a boycott would even stand a chance of doing anything is for China to stop doing trade with Brazil and fat chance of that! Individual action is not enough to save the planet. It takes governments to get serious, and I mean deadly serious. When people go hungry, they fight. But what about a world starved of oxygen?

We don’t have time to wait. We are fast approaching a time when the Amazon will give off more carbon than what it absorbs. We must do more than ask individuals to change their actions. We must do more than ask corporations to change their actions. If every nation in the Paris Agreement made the sale of mammal meat illegal right now, we could save the rainforest. But fat chance of that happening.

People are addicted to meat. It is not a healthy food source for our species, though corporations pay off our regulatory agencies to say it is. It is horribly wasteful to produce, is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and is accelerating worldwide mass extinction. But we know that banning the sale of meat is not going to happen. It is yet another scenario that will only exist in the minds of right wing conspiracy theorists who are making this another culture war by labeling mere recommendations to eat less meat as the political left trying to take meat out of the mouths of blood-thirsty Americans.

Even placing limits on the sale of mammal meat, or adapting new guidelines for how it can be purchased (such as only allowing direct sale from producer to consumer, eliminating the sale of mammal meat in groceries and restaurants) is not likely to happen. While increased demand for plant-based meats is a positive, relying yet again on the actions of individuals is surely going to fall short of accomplishing the task of saving the Amazon.

We simply cannot buy our way out of environmental destruction. At this point, it is going to require blood being spilled. It is not as though blood isn’t already being spilled in an effort to save the rainforest. Indigenous people are fighting to preserve their home. Their lives seldom get counted among the devastation being wrought. Aren’t their lives worth fighting for? Aren’t ours?

The U.S. Department of Defense sees climate change as a real threat to national security. It is a threat to all life. While wealthy men might think they can escape this planet for a refuge in outer space, there is no Planet B.

I write this as someone who has been antiwar my entire life. Things have to be pretty dire for me to suggest that we go to war. Before writing this, I searched the web to see if anyone is actually recommending that we go to war for the Amazon. While Bolsonaro has made threats, an obvious paper tiger, most of what I found were the same suggestions for boycotts, having billionaires buy up hectares of rainforest, blah, blah, blah. The same stuff that has been tried and has failed to work. We need Bolsonaro’s head on a plate, and we need the heads of many people in Brazil’s government. We need to act as empire builders, a role we have never been well-suited to. We need to make some effort to actually do something, or we will lose everything.