The Brazilian Carlos Nobre, the climate change expert who warned about the fires of the Amazon, points out the responsibilities for the fires and proposes an alternative path to the preservation-extractivism dichotomy: genomic research to add value to the rich biodiversity of the region, keeping the forest standing.
There is no doubt that this is not fire due to weather conditions but to the accelerated shift of the agricultural frontier. The large number of fires that we see now is not due to the burning of standing forests, but of already collapsed and dry trees. It is clear that, compared to 2018, the increase in the rate of deforestation in much of the Amazon is notable,” says Carlos Nobre, senior researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Sao Paulo, former INPE researcher (Institute National Space Research, the organism whose satellite images, dotted with igneous foci, are revealing to the world the magnitude of the environmental catastrophe suffered by the Amazon) and one of the most prominent specialists in global warming.
Member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global scientific organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its contribution to environmental protection, Nobre points to the human and political responsibilities of forest fires that are sweeping the green lung of the planet. Between January and August 2019, INPE detected almost 73 thousand fires in the region, 83% more than in the previous year. Jair Bolsonaro’s government pointed to drought – and also, unusually, to environmental NGOs – as a cause of the fires. “It’s not like that. They are man-induced, usually by farmers and ranchers. And the new Brazilian government promotes this model of agricultural development. The president himself, who has called himself ‘Captain Chainsaw,’ encourages him,” says Nobre.
“For years, we have been working for development alternatives whose foundation is the economic potential of the tropical forest; that is, a development that is based precisely on its very high degree of biodiversity. With modern
science and technology, high added value could be generated through the biological assets of the Amazon, which are very rich. Today the most obvious example is acai, the fruit of a species of Amazon palm tree that, fifteen years ago, was a product of local consumption, and today is the center of an industry that generates one billion dollars a year for the region. That is a product of the biodiversity of the Amazon, but there are thousands. That economy can be much more profitable than livestock and agriculture, which there is low productivity, and can be developed with the forest standing, in an environmentally sustainable way.”