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The Hollow Consensus on the Amazon

The apparent unanimity on the need to prevent the Amazon’s annihilation is built on empty rhetoric. Brazil’s current political leaders talk of defending the rainforest, but do nothing to change the predatory development model that is destroying it.

BRASILIA – The Amazon rainforest will survive only if the will to preserve it is stronger than the desire to burn it down. And current signs are not positive. Clouds of rhetoric, controversy, and punditry, thicker than the smoke from forest fires, threaten to distract attention from the purposeful action required to protect the world’s largest tropical forest. Meanwhile, its destruction continues unabated. 

The apparent unanimity on the need to prevent the Amazon’s annihilation is nothing more than a hollow consensus. Brazil’s current political leaders talk of defending the rainforest, but do nothing to change the predatory development model that is destroying it. Most policymakers have little interest in combining growth and prosperity with social inclusiveness, the protection of forests, and the preservation of indigenous cultures. Instead of learning about the genuinely sustainable development already underway in the Amazon, they oppose every attempt to alter the perverse economic logic of exploitation.

There are already several initiatives to promote sustainable development in the region. They include the 2008 Sustainable Amazon Plan – with inputs from scientists, politicians, and civic leaders – and the more recent Amazônia 4.0, designed by a team of scientists led by the Brazilian climatologist Carlos Nobre.

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