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The Amazon and You

Sovereignty entails obligations as well as rights, and where compliance cannot be induced, pressure must be applied. And though positive incentives to encourage and enable compliance would be preferable, Brazil's government is showing that there must be sticks where carrots are not enough.

NEW YORK – Nearly everyone has seen the dramatic images of the Amazon ablaze. Tens of thousands of fires – intentionally started or caused by logging, farming, mining, and other human activities – have broken out over the past year alone.

This matters a great deal, because forests absorb gases that increase global warming if released into the atmosphere. Reduction of the Amazon rainforest by fire adds to the problem of climate change in two ways: the fires themselves release gases and particles that accelerate the earth’s warming, and the elimination of the trees by definition means they cannot absorb carbon dioxide.

The issue gripped last month’s G7 meeting in France. The leaders of many of the world’s wealthiest countries pledged just over $22 million to help Brazil, home to the bulk of the Amazon rainforest and nearly half of the world’s tropical forests, combat the fires. Brazil angrily rejected the offer.

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  1. op_dervis1_Mikhail SvetlovGetty Images_PutinXiJinpingshakehands Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

    Cronies Everywhere

    Kemal Derviş

    Three recent books on political economy show that there are as many differences between crony-capitalist systems as there are similarities. And while deep-seated corruption is usually associated with autocracies like modern-day Russia, democracies have no reason to assume that they are immune.

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